Saturday, December 13, 2008


Being Watched

This morning, while wrapping presents at the old octagonal table in my office, I knew I was being watched. Not just by Edward, who had finally begun to abandon his enthusiastic attempts to claim the ribbons for his own - but by others, many others, just outside my window, curiously looking in at me from their place in the cold early sunlight. The Birds. Cardinals and chickadees, fat grey doves and red-winged blackbirds, titmice and towhees. Constant companions here in my little wing of the house, surrounding the cerulean glass feeder at all hours of the day, taking turns, crowding occasionally, chirping often, singing frequently. They are here in all seasons of the year, splashing around in their stone bath nestled in the holly bushes in summer, gathering twigs and pine needles for their brand new nests in spring, but oh so playful, so cheery in winter. They seem to love this time of year as much as I and it almost seems as though they themselves are filled with the happy spirit of Christmas and wish to join in the festive work they see just beyond the glass. Feathers fluffed, eyes bright, happily enjoying their breakfast, they watched me work all morning.
Like Edward, like myself, they call this cottage home.

Bird Sanctuary

Between the cliff-rise and the beach
A slip of emerald I own;
With fig and olive, almond, peach,
cherry and plum-tree overgrown;
Glad-watered by a crystal spring
That carols through the silver night,
And populous with birds who sing
Gay madrigals for my delight.

Some merchants fain would buy my land
To build a stately pleasure dome.
Poor fools! they cannot understand
how pricelessly it is my home!
So luminous with living wings,
So musical with feathered joy . . .
Not for all pleasure fortune brings,
Would I such ecstasy destroy.

A thousand birds are in my grove,
Melodious from morn to night;
My fruit trees are their treasure trove,
Their happiness is my delight.
And through the sweet and shining days
They know their lover and their friend;
So I will shield in peace and praise
My innocents unto the end.

Robert W. Service

43 comments:

  1. Such a sweet post and I can just imagine your birdies twittering, xv.

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  2. Yes birds feeding at this time of the year is wonderful. Here in the UK you see the shy ones that you don't usually see when food is easier to find and the earth isn't as hard as iron as Christina Rosetti wrote in "In the Bleak Midwinter".

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  3. I have a picture in my mind now, so pretty, of you sat by the window watching the birds, and Edward with a piece of red ribbon flopped over his nose - what lovely names you have for your garden birds, I wish we had 'chickadees'!

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  4. The snapshot you created with words is "luminous."

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  5. I can't think of a garden without birds. What a beautiful post. Enjoy your birds -- they are our friends as well.

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  6. Yes, we notice the birds so much more in winter.
    What delight they bring us.

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  7. There is no greater joy than having breakfast seated near the window gazing out to the bird feeders and watching the antics of our feathered friends.
    The chickadees have moved from the woods of summer to partake of the seed from backyard feeders in the colder weather. Their little chirps fill the silent morning air with song.
    xo Susan

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  8. Did you have a moment as I would have where you wished they'd fly in and help you lift the wrapping paper like they did with Cinderella's gown?
    Lovely!

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  9. SO lovely! I am a bird lover and can't imagine life without these wonderful creatures!

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  10. Lovely post. I love Robert Service's poems and he seems to be out of fashion these days so it was a delight to read it. Also agree about the joy birds sive us. Tell me - does the red cardinal have a song? I saw one in Alberquerque this year for the first time - so exciting.

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  11. Our birds are unvaried this time of year. Mostly finch, chickadees, nuthatch, and woodpeckers. But there is one doe who we've nicknamed Birdie because she has learned that if she balances on her hind legs and sticks her tongue out far enough she can reach the seed. It's always a lot of fun to see her head pop up unexpectedly in our window.

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  12. I love this post. I am a bird lover as well. We have a red feeder in the back yard..wooded lot and enjoy watching the birds come throughout the day. We have 2 sets of cardinals we call them the couples! 2 males and 2 females..they come every night at dinner time..so fun to watch their ritual and amazing how polite they are to each other!!

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  13. Since I cut the big tree down in the back yard the birds flew away. But my dad has a little bird haven in his back yard and they actually do watch you from the window. Cracks me up!

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  14. Makes me miss all the birds that gather around my mother's house. Lovely!

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  15. Pamela, I cried. Robert Service is an old, old friend from our days inCanada1959-60. Sometimes I so miss the books we had before the fire. The then Phd. student, now Prof.Emeritus did research on sea ice at Hudson Bay, and we lived in Stephen Leacock country. Our N.American book collection was quite extensive.
    I love that you too love the birds around you. I had an immature parrot almost land on me yesterday, he thought I was Lot's wife unfortunately I moved in my surprise, he was inches away from me. I am constantly aware of the cacophany of bird calls around me.

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  16. Oh, I am a cardinal perched outside - watching you wrap and wishing I had a snippet of that fine ribbon for my nest or even a shaft of Master Edward's hair for my nest to keep me warm and cozy.
    pve

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  17. I keep a bird feeder just outside my craft room window so I can watch the birds during the day. It seems to make working in there much more peaceful.
    Thank you for sharing such a lovely poem.

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  18. Love that illustration. Every winter we have a little bird who wiggles into our porch light to spend the night. He can get in because we're missing one screw but we'd never replace else he couldn't get in! Sometimes in the morning we hear him chirping before he heads out for the day.

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  19. your words are so beautiful, it takes me away from reality.
    birds are great but some scare me

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  20. How I would love to have little birds around, one like Chickadees etc. My favourites are the tiny red breasted robins in England that are only about the size of sparrows here--so much smaller than the ones here. but, all birds are wonderful. I love to watch them.

    I can just imagine your setting.

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  21. I love the things you point out.
    Just yesterday feeling down, I looked at the birds hopping about on the grass, pecking at their food, so light - so carefree, so happily busy, and thought of how they live day to day, with hearts as light.
    They are surely sweet to have around, especially when soaking up a warm winter sun.

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  22. A lovely picture you have painted.

    I share your love of Howards End (and Fortnum's and Masons where I hope to visit soon!)

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  23. Absolutely charming, every line of it and every word of it. Enchanting.

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  24. Dear Pamela..A litte birdie post...always makes me happy.Thank you.Hope is the thing with feathers..Have a happy Sunday..

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  25. P & E - thank you so much for this poem - It gives us pause - much needed.

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  26. How lovely to be surrounded by feathered friends!

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  27. Why is it that every illustration you post makes me want to step inside and be a part of the scene. Today I felt I was sitting by the snow covered window ledge watching the birds. Between the picture and the writings, for just a brief moment I am visiting another places.

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  28. I love to sit at the table in our conservatory and watch the birds on the bird table. I can so easily get distracted from the sewing or card writing I should be doing as they are so entertaining.

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  29. Ah! I loved reading that poem. I find birdwatching such a joy. We can sit for hours watching the birds at the feeders up at Cranberry Cottage. It is shear joy to see them. Appropriate also for this 3rd advent Sunday. I hope you were able to finish your wrapping with the distraction of these little wonders?

    Hugs ~
    Heidi

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  30. 'Their happiness is my delight'

    Yeah, I concur. :)
    Recently, I've been getting a new visitor - these little shy beautiful slate-colored juncos.

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  31. It is always such a treat to visit your blog.

    I do miss the variety of birds we'd get at our winter feeders when we lived back east. I get a good number (quantity) of birds at mine, but generally only a few varieties - chickadees, juncos, nuthatches and house finches... Only on occasion will something more 'exotic' show up... But I have arranged all the feeders to be visible from the studio window so that I can watch them as I work.

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  32. That's beautiful, Pamela....I can clearly visualize Edward, in all his curiosity, during your gift wrapping ritual...

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  33. Being such a lover of birds, I especially enjoyed this post Pamela. I can imagine how wonderful your garden is filled with birds.

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  34. What a sweet illustration. We (Oliver Gus and I ) all love to watch the birds here at 29 Black Street as well and you may have heard we have been enjoying the company of a rare Yellow Throated Warbler boy far from his Florida home, happily enjoying peanut butter, suet and black oil sunflower seeds at our well stocked winter feeders.

    He's been hanging around for a few weeks now sharing the bounty with chickadees, blue jays, yellow finches, a downy woodpecker, mourning doves and more...

    xo S and of course a very special hello to handsome Edward and sweet Miss A from Miss Winnie Dixon.

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  35. Thanks so much for your good wishes to us on the birth of our grandson, Pamela! We are so thrilled and thankful he is here!

    I always feed the birds during the winter so that I can keep their companionship. They also make me so happy! Even the squirrels who steal the sunflower seeds from my feeder make me smile.

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  36. You are blessed to have the cheery sound of birds outside your office window.

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  37. I love the birds flocking together at this time of year. i can just see Edward watching you as you wrap your gifts

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  38. Such a beautiful post. Thanks for inviting me into your world.

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  39. Like you I just love the birds who inhabit the land around our cottage. I have two 'feeding stations' one at the front and one at the back, by the kitchen window. I could spend hours just watching them and couldn't imagine a garden or a life without them.

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  40. Pamela,
    This is particularly dear to me in my present state. After George built my memory garden, he began feeding the birds in earnest. We had played at it before, but fat wobbly mourning doves play in the baths and perch on the posts where he laid square flower pot trays for the feed. A suet feeder on the tree doesn't get as much business as we would have thought, but the safflower see calls the cardinals, bright and dull red, male and female. Now I have taken over the feeding, and I am a novice, but I mean to make a study of it and have all the right songbird seeds. I really enjoy the calls and the twittering.

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I love to read your comments! Each and every one! Though I'm always reading your comments, I may not respond in the comment section. If you want to write me directly, you may do so at pamela@pamelaterry.net. Thank you for reading!