I set out grubs and every once in awhile peanuts as a special treat for a small family of crows I feed from my deck. A few chickadees, Juncos and other small birds join in. They take what they need and move on. Seeing that the crows have moved on the starlings swoop in. The scene shifts, it’s mayhem and a full on feeding frenzy ensues. I turn my back and let them have their way with the grubs. I try to ignore them, but their screeching presence bothers me. Sometimes the blue jays take the peanuts and swallow them whole before the crows can carefully crack them open. All too often, the menagerie I try to create and view from my window is annihilated.
It took some time, but I’ve come to appreciate the starlings and blue jays – not as much as the crows, of course. I use a different lens to observe their comings and goings now. Their movements, shapes, sounds, colors and behaviors come to life in a new way. I’ve learned to keep my human expectations (for the most part) around the natural order of bird life at bay. After all, I’m the one instigating any potential for chaos with my peanuts and grubs.
Here’s to cultivating new perspectives and living with a little more space in our hearts for those things that make us uncomfortable.
Wishing you all a year filled with unforeseen and wondrous new beginnings.
Starlings in Winter
by Mary Oliver
Chunky and noisy,
but with stars in their black feathers,
they spring from the telephone wire
they are acrobats
in the freezing wind.
And now, in the theater of air,
they swing over buildings,
dipping and rising;
they float like one stippled star
becomes for a moment fragmented,
then closes again;
and you watch
and you try
but you simply can’t imagine
how they do it
with no articulated instruction, no pause,
only the silent confirmation
that they are this notable thing,
this wheel of many parts, that can rise and spin
over and over again,
full of gorgeous life.
Ah, world, what lessons you prepare for us,
even in the leafless winter,
even in the ashy city.
I am thinking now
of grief, and of getting past it;
I feel my boots
trying to leave the ground,
I feel my heart
pumping hard. I want
to think again of dangerous and noble things.
I want to be light and frolicsome.
I want to be improbable beautiful and afraid of nothing,
as though I had wings.