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Monday, February 1, 2010

Inner Vision

As a child, a robin sighted in the March or April presented a reason to celebrate. Fair-weather birds returning from warmer climates delivered evidence of approaching spring. So imagine my delight this morning, when I watched as two robins landed on the grass outside the window in front of me, then three, then a flock. Their stomachs bulged, puffed out like swallowed baseballs, protruding orange bellies brushed the ground as they pecked at the frozen earth. It was clear that these guys have experienced no ill effects through our frozen winter or the six-week snow-cover that melted last week during a short-lived thaw.

Somewhere in my adulthood, I became educated to the fact that robins don’t actually leave us during the cold months, however, the plump beauties feeding from my lawn on the first day of February provided me with an unexpected gift--a moment of optimism in which I was anxious to engage. So leaving my Morning Pages notebook open; I ran to the guestroom, changed the lens on the Nikon and began shooting pictures through the window.

The birds noshed on the yellow stubs of hay, oblivious to the drone of commuter traffic pouring down our street until a school bus spewing blue smoke revved its diesel engine and they took flight. I heard a thwack as one of them hit the front door. “Ugh” I thought. “I’m not opening it to check.”

Once the bus departed though, the flock returned and after taking several photos, I set the camera aside and began writing again--until a contractor’s pick-up clanked as it bottomed out in the divot in front of our house. For a second time, the birds took to the air and again I heard a thump, this one into a bedroom window.

Wincing and throwing down my pen, I walked to the rear of the house and found more birds rooting around the backyard. As I sat in front of the computer, another, louder crash reverberated. “Holy God” I yelled. Jumping up, I paced from room to room; afraid to look out at what might, or might not be flapping on the lawn, while checking to see if a window had cracked. All I could think about was the three-sided glass den jutting from the back of my childhood home. Birds always collided with the sliding doors; we would watch them afterwards, shivering or lying stunned on the grass until they recovered from the shock. Most times, they did.

In all, six birds flew into our house this morning as I cringed, before the flock departed for good. It’s only dawning on me as I type this that I could have opened the door and banged a pot and those suicidal dive bombers would have moved right along.

Sometimes obvious answers are the hardest to see. This is an anniversary week for me. A year ago Friday, I started Middle Passages as a result of a life-change the day before that left me flailing like a broken-winged bird. Somehow I healed myself, but like my visitors this morning,I’ve been flying blind all year and have encountered my share of clear glass windows. Here's what I've learned. After the crash, it's OK to lie on the ground for a bit. But then all you can do is shake yourself and lift off once again, knowing that the only sure thing is that life will erect other invisible surprises.

Today's harmless revelation--well, to me anyway?

Robins must be myopic.


glnroz said...

it seem that you have your wings a'flappin' now. lol

Carolina M. Valdez Schneider said...

So beautiful...love the sentiment in this post.

And yes, the call of the birds in the spring always, always renews hope in me. After a long winter, there is nothing like birdsong to lighten your heart. And what a beautiful analogy for surviving heartache.

Moreover, I think perhaps there's nothing quite like myopic birds to make us feel glad we're not birds ;) I was once told if you make your windows too clean and shiny, birds will run into them. Perhaps if you put something up on the glass, they might be less likely to hit it? I once had two birds run into my car on the same drive. It was tragic. I was frazzled for the rest of the day.

Tamika: said...

I love the way you string your words together! What I would love even more is SPRING!

Helen Ginger said...

I think learning that lesson is part of what brings us into adulthood. As a child, a mother might pick us up, hug away the hurt, and send us out to play. We learn, though, that adults, like birds, have to pick themselves up and move on. Loved how you connected this all together.

Straight From Hel

Sharon said...

Thanks for the reminder. Well done.

Anonymous said...

I had a moment some years ago when a bird hit the glass front door of my small office building. I came downstairs to see what happened, and saw a sparrow lying on the front step. As I watched, it moved one leg, slowly, shuddered, and went still. The thought of it still mists my eyes. Something warm and small and free went still and cold in an instant.

I'm glad your robins survived to fly again, good lady.

Jody Hedlund said...

Wow, Liza! What a beautiful revelation! It is okay to have our moments on the ground. But hopefully, we can find the strength to get up and fly again.

BTW, I can't believe you had that many robins this time of year. I'm guessing you live in a bit warmer climate than my Michigan one! We don't see robins until at least March or April.

J.B. Chicoine said...

I guess I didn’t realize that robins aren’t migratory! (what other myths am I hanging on to?)
I'm envious, in that good sort of way...Thanks for sharing!