Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Let Nothing Ye Dismay

I don't know how you parents do it.

I don't know how you're supposed to have this little tiny being that you love more than you've ever loved anything in the whole wide world and then you're supposed to just let it grow up and go away. It's got to be the hardest thing. I mean, sure, it's one thing if it's annoying, but otherwise, how are you supposed to stop worrying?

And then what if it's not annoying at all? What if it has always been perfect in every way and not once given you a moment of sorrow? What if it's Studley Windowson?

You get yourself your own personal chickadee and you've got a twelve-gram portal to everything important in the universe. Maybe you're a little down, and you've sort of lost your way, and you wander outside and your chickadee lands on your finger and all of a sudden everything makes sense again. Here, he says, your way is over here. And maybe could you bring a mealworm on your way back? Studley thinks I'm a terrific cook, which makes him unique in the world. He thinks I get the temperature and liveliness just right, every worm al dente, but it's nothing, really. It's all in the presentation.

I don't see Studley every day, but every couple days he'll show up outside my writing room window and chikket at me. I'll put up one finger--to let him know I'm on it--go downstairs to the fridge and get the mealworms, and he'll still be right there waiting when I get back. But I haven't seen him in two weeks.

I worry. I know some day Studley will not reappear but I am not ready for that now. I want to see him through next spring's nesting season at least. Fortunately for me, our chickadees don't go anywhere in the winter, or so I've always thought. Now that I have one I can recognize, I was looking forward to seeing if I was right.

Every time in the last two weeks I see a chickadee at the feeder I run out with my tub of worms and it's never Studley. I can't see his tell-tale bum foot until he's real close, but Studley is never standoffish, and no one's come close. I've started to think dark thoughts. I've started to refer to my neighbors' unauthorized outdoor cats Boo and Anjali as "Coyote Chow." Maybe out loud.

Sometimes when you've gathered all your big griefs and little griefs and boxed them up neatly for transport without spillage, it doesn't take much to tip the scales. Twelve grams, maybe.

"Oh Studley," I think, when I'm refusing to think worse things, "are you seeing someone else?" So  it is not without gratitude that I received a bolt of grace today. I moved on.  I started seeing other chickadees. We're not intimate, but it's still exciting. Today we got two new birds at the feeder. They're chestnut-backed chickadees. Most of y'all don't have any of those. They're common at the coast and probably some Portland neighborhoods but this is a new Yard Bird for me. I thought: they're not Studley, but jeezy peezy they're snappy-looking. I decided to quit yearning and be happy with what I've got.

And that's when one of the regular black-capped chickadees came to the feeder. They always take one seed and run, but this one paused, and looked directly into the window at me, and didn't even bother with the seed. Studley?

Yes.

Merry Christmas, Studdles, and to all a good night.

35 comments:

  1. Thank goodness he came back! I realize, as you do, that one day he won't. I'm still not over Canuck the crow disappearing, and it's been since August. When we love someone, there is always a shadow of grief waiting in the wings to claim you. One would think that it would get easier to handle in our advancing years, as we've been through multiple griefs. It doesn't. I find it gets harder. Maybe because, as one gets older, loved ones are lost, one by one. Until there are only a few, and that makes them more precious.

    Ruminations like these are part of what my mind chews on while I have insomnia. A lot of life seems to be waiting for the other shoe to drop.

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    1. I wish I could remember his exact words, but Garrison Keillor once said something about this--that the young people are baffled by old folks tearing up at weddings, for instance, and it's because "they don't have the past for it."

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  2. I worried all the way to your last paragraph, then the huge sigh of relief let loose. I'm so glad Studley came back. Let's hope Mrs Studley makes it back too.

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    1. I was going through a bunch of photos I've taken of Studley including a set of him in a branch outside my window with a mealworm, and suddenly I realized it wasn't Studley! It was about a month after fledging time and it was either Marge or the kid. So Studley was still handing off our mealworms.

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  3. You are right that most of us don't see chestnut-backed chickadees. Here in Kansas we have the black-capped and Carolinas.

    Thanks for the apt posting, and Merry Christmas.
    Cop Car

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    1. Can you tell them apart? They sure look the same to me.

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    2. Years ago I thought I could. Now I just say that I saw a chickadee!
      CC

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  4. Glad Studley came home for the holidays!.
    We just have black capped and boreal chickadees here.

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  5. Oh I'm so glad he came back! We had a little yellow bird one winter that didn't belong with the sparrows - must have been an escaped pet finch. I loved seeing him, he was like a drop of sunshine in the wintertime. Sadly he disappeared after a very cold snap and we didn't see him again. So glad your guy is OK!

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    1. I'm looking forward to seeing how many years I can get out of him. Of course, I don't know how old he is now. I know he was breeding in spring of 2018 (that's when his foot injury was new). So that would make him at least two and a half.

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  6. How WONDERFUL that Studley came back. I have been there, I have worried. I have certainly been dismayed and that dismay has verged on dispair.
    Seeing/feeling that tiny bodyweight again equates to tonnes and tonnes of joy.

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    1. It's got to be difficult for y'all in Australia now.

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  7. What a wonderful post. And so glad Studly is back.

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  8. Happy Holidays to you, my friends...feathered and otherwise!

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  9. One takes miracles wherever you can find them these days, and this is one of them! Welcome back Studley! My son hung the feeders I bought *in August* today, so I'm looking forward to seeing some dee-dees of my own. Merry Christmas Murr, Dave,Studley and All of you!

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    1. We're out of seed and there's only a half-feeder left. I think I know what we're going to do today. We almost always walk to the stores, this one being about two miles away--but with a 40-pound bag of seed? Oy.

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  10. What a sweet story. We love Studley.

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  11. There I was, all boxed up neatly for transport without spillage, and I got spillage coming out of my eyes. Merry Christmas, Murr, Dave, Pootie and Studs.

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    1. It happens when you least expect it. Merry Christmas Leslie!

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  12. And every time you meet him again, tidings of comfort and joy!

    (And I just googled 'tidings.' 2 definitions. Archaic, meaning 'news and information'. Also, "Rare: a flock of magpies.
    "a tiding of magpies perch in the low pines")

    Cheers to you. And thank you -- your presence in this maddening, terrifying world means more than you know.

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  13. Aw, I'm so glad Studley showed up! It's amazing how heavy the heart can be over such a tiny being, isn't it?

    Those other chickadees need name tags so you can know who's who. A missing foot just isn't the ideal identifier. Although, when you have wings . . . maybe it's not so bad.

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    1. He seems to do just fine with it. That first year when he was newly injured he was mostly standing on one foot with the other one jigged up in his fluffies but now it's functional. Missing two toes is all. If you embiggen the first two photos you'll see it.

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  14. What a precious and sweet post. Perfect for the holidays including that little gift card ornament thingy.

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