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Feed the Birds, Feed Your Soul!

I started feeding the birds a few years ago because it seemed like the thing a gardener would do. I put the bird food out, waited, no birds! What did I do wrong? I changed the seed selection to another kind, put it in the feeders, no birds! What the heck?

I was feeling disappointed so I consulted the internet. I didn't think I had to research what I thought was an easy new hobby. Well, I learned that the birds needed to have a little time to discover the tasty morsels I put out for them. Just because I put the food out one time, didn't mean it was a habit (for me or the birds). What? No instant gratification? I was going to have to give this more thought. Do I commit? How much of my energy will need to be devoted to this task? Was it worth it?


The next day, I fed the birds. The day after that, again, I fed the birds. The crazy thing was that the food was being eaten, but I didn't see any birds. Well, this new arrangement seemed unfair. What's in it for me?


After about 2 weeks of putting out the seed, expecting nothing, and continuing with my yard work, THEY CAME! I started noticing bird sounds. I would lift my head from whatever I was working on to stop and listen. It sounded like chatter to me at first until I looked closer. I began to notice the little robins, who to me, always seemed happy. Some days, when I was really lucky, I would see a pair of cardinals. The male appeared first, so proud and bright red. The female made her appearance a minute behind, her colors not as bright but still so beautiful. I came to recognize their call. It is unique. The bluejays are not as gentle on their arrival. Often their call is a bit more robust, sort of like, "I have arrived so everyone, make room".


The most memorable of all the birds was a catbird that I named "Pretty-face". I recall hearing a sound, over and over, that was new to me. The little thing was trying for several minutes to get my attention. When I finally looked up, there he was, on the rail just out of my reach. I couldn't believe how close he was to me. His call was not one of warning or alarm but seemed like a conversation. He chattered away with his chest proud, looking from side to side like he was telling me his life story. I listened, mesmerized. His face was so beautiful and expressive. I was captivated!

He visited me every day that summer! Each time he did, I felt blessed. He comes back every year in the spring.


The days that followed were awesome. We began to form a routine. At breakfast time, they would line up on the branches of the tree just outside my deck and chat it up, probably discussing what was keeping me. Some (mostly the cardinal) would be so brave as to look in my window to see what the hold-up was. I put the food out, all the birds came. I could get closer and closer to all of them without them flying away. I came to know their call, and they knew me. We had formed a bond.


This bond affirmed so many life lessons for me. Lessons like, fiercely protect your young, take turns and share even if they are different from you; when storms come, ride it out. It will be over soon; if your house gets blown down, rebuild it; don't be afraid of bumblebees; trust your wings, not the branch you are sitting on (I borrowed that one).


Now, years later, I still feed the birds every day. I feed them in the rain, snow, sleet, all year long. They have become one of my most treasured "habits" of my morning routine. They have given me so much more than I could ever have imagined. In meditation once, it came to me that birds carry love on the tips of their wings. When they fly over you, they sprinkle you with it. When they do, my soul drinks it up. It seems like it is when I least expect it and need it most.


I can honestly say that I have received so much more than I have given by the simple task of feeding the birds. I have fed them, and they have fed my soul.




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