Updated: Apr 28, 2020
Inches to the right of my computer screen is a window. Two feet from the window is a railing. Atop the railing is an offering of black sunflower seeds and millet. The pine siskins and juncos prefer the millet. The chickadees are all about the sunflowers. They twirl and crack the shells and extract the greasy prize with astonishing lingual dexterity. And then the Stellar jay shows up and chokes down beak-load after beak-load with glutinous abandon. They clear the rail in minutes. I leave my desk, fetch another quart of seeds and step outside, bare feet on the icy deck. I pour my offering, return to my chair, tuck toes into still-warm slippers.
We've been at it all winter, my feathered buddies and me. Seeds in exchange for sharp, twitchy companionship. My buddies have brightened the dark days of winter. And. now, in the lengthening days of spring, my buddies offer a welcome distraction from our virus-stricken world. My wife is a doctor. She comes to bed late, slips out in the wee hours. When she's not seeing patients, she's studying trends, coordinating with colleagues, doing all she can to prep for the growing pandemic.
And as my community frets about ventilators and travel restrictions, my buddies have turned to tasks of springs. The juncoes started singing two weeks ago. Each morning they start at first light and chatter throughout the day. I envy their lives, untouched by the grim calculus of exponential rates of infection. They eat and sing and build nests and offer hope of a world at peace with itself.