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Springtime Visitors

By Edward A. Rinderle
Posted: 05/07/2024

It's a lovely Spring afternoon as I nestle into my bed to read.  I sit partly upright with two pillows stuffed behind me for support.  Near to me on the left is a window.  I have drawn the shade halfway up, giving me a view of the back yard.  The yard's most prominent feature is a hedge of some thirty lantana plants.  Their blooms stand out in front of the deep green back fence.  A cement bird bath resides majestically near the yard’s center.  I call this station in the bed my“perch”, for from here, out the window, I can watch the birds. 


When in my perch, I am usually reading or working on my laptop.  But whenever a bird visits the bird bath, it catches my eye, and I stop to watch.  The birds usually come singly or in pairs to get a drink or a “bath” as they splash around in the water.   No matter how often they come, they always make me smile.  


The most frequent visitors to the bath are an array of “nondescript” birds, mostly shades of gray with no outstanding features.  Some are common sparrows, some are smaller birds which I have dubbed “pudgy tweeters”.  Every so often, a mockingbird.  Larger birds, too.  Though they vary in appearance, they all act pretty much the same.  They perch on the side of the bird bath, dip their beaks down for a quick sip, then pop their heads up, looking to the heavens to swallow the precious liquid.  Next, they stretch their necks and look warily from side to side, checking for anything that might seem a threat.  If they see nothing disturbing, they bow their heads for another sip.  After a sip or two, or ten, or more, they may opt for a bath.  The tweeters barely disturb the water's surface, but the larger birds actually splash water out of the bath altogether. 


The bath's most spectacular visitors are the woodpeckers., decked beautifully in black and white with a bright red patch at the back of their heads.  They are bigger and more colorful than most of he other birds, but their ritual is the same.  Sometimes I see a lone woodpecker, sometimes a pair, sometimes a threesome.  


When free of disturbance, after drinking their fill, the birds would simply fly away.  


Whether plain or spectacular, large or small, bathers or drinkers only, I call them all my angels.  They have brought me both joy and comfort  in my grief.  In so doing they seem to be looking out for me.

One day, after dropping off for a catnap, I opened my eyes to see a yard devoid of birds.  Strange not to see any birds!  Then a dark shadow passes over the yard.  I hear the ominous call:  “Caw!  Caw!”  A large black shape descends next to the bird bath.  The raven turns his head toward me, red eyes flashing.  “Caw!  Caw!”  A threat?  Or a warning?  The raven is soon joined by another of his kind, then another.  Soon eight, ten, twelve of the black “demons” populate the yard.  It is a scene straight out of Hitchcock!

Still a bit groggy, I blink a few times to clear my vision.  The scene has changed.  The ravens are pecking away at the ground in search of food.  They hop from place to place with a little waddle thrown in, and I smile.  Then one, then two, then the rest leap from the ground and soar into flight, wings flapping gently.  They are absolutely majestic!  Beautiful.  Grand.

Yes, they, too, are angels.

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