Winter Birds

I heard the cry of birds – chickadees
Calling chickadee dee dee
From a tree branch near my back door.

It mattered not to them that every other limb
Wore thick white tufts of snow and ice;
That the air outside was minus ten degrees celcius
Or that the weather forecasters had proclaimed
A major chance of freezing rain to shelter from
Coming within a matter of hours.

What, it seemed to me, the birds did care about
Was that the sun in the sky seemed just a little warmer
Than it had been, and that somewhere in their avian brains
They knew that snow or not, the sap was beginning to run
And that meant old seeds to pick and leaf buds to nibble
Or maybe small insects were beginning to stir in otherwise cold
Tree branches.

I stood and stared in that cold open door
While I waited for our nonchalant puppy
To finish bounding in snow banks,
A huge lump of black sinking into not so pristine white
My toes turning cold and just listening to
The sweet sounds of these first harbingers of spring.

When the winter’s snow fell and the ground froze
And these little birds went wherever they go at that time
The world was a rather different place.
They wouldn’t know that banks collapsed next door
And jobs were being lost in the thousands
And that interest rates and gas prices fell
Or that seniors saw their retirement funds vanish
And others their entire fortunes disappear
Seemingly overnight.

And I don’t think they’d really understand
The importance of a Democrat, the first black man
Becoming President of our neighboring country
Or know that the busses in our neighboring city went on strike
For 52 days. People walked, or drove, and would have envied them
Their ability to fly had they been around then.
Not that little wild birds care about such things.

No, they care about the length of the daylight and
The strength of the sun’s rays on feathered wings
They care about seeds hanging from branches
And twigs and bits of string with which to build a nest
And what would be the safest spot to construct
Away from the prying paws of squirrels and dare I say it
Cats, my own sweet housecats fearsome
Feline hunters when faced by something small.

Regardless, I watch these two wee birds hopping gently from
Branch to branch and marvel at their agility
And ability to remind me
That no matter what
The cold will pass, the sun will warm the earth
Flowers will bloom and grass will grow
Laughter and the sounds of life will soon enough
Fill the once frozen air
Irrespective of portfolios and General Motors
Uninhibited by reluctant bankers and layoff notices.

As it should be.

Catherine M. Harris
(c) February 16, 2009

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