Things I will miss, River Run, Part 1

  • Aperture: f/5.6
  • Focal Length: 200mm
  • Shutter: 1/320 sec
  • Camera: NIKON D1H

Northport, Alabama

This bird has spent the better part of the summer antagonizing my cats, particularly Zolby and Alexander. Every morning from about 7 a.m. until noon, she flits from the swing to the planters to the wind chime and back again, much to the chagrin of my furry charges, who have never felt a bird between their teeth but are quite sure they would know what to do with one should the occasion present itself.

Fascinated, the cats spend hours crouched at the window ledge in rapt attention, intermittently uttering “ROW-OW-OW-CH-CH-CH-CH” sounds in every decibel and intonation known to the feline species.

A few weeks ago, I realized what all the commotion was about — the bird had built a nest on the porch column near my swing and apparently feels it necessary to stand guard at the window lest the indoor prisoners suddenly discover a way to become outdoor predators.

I feel a little sad now when I watch this morning ritual because I know something the cats do not — they will be saying goodbye to their feathered friend soon, long before we ever get to see the baby birds leave the nest. We will no longer see the three squirrels chase one another around the maple tree, never again see the mourning doves mill about on the ground below, making their haunting “coo, coo, coo” sound.

They are all so much a part of the fabric of my life here. How many days have I spent lying in my bed looking out the window, watching life unfold beneath that tree?

Our new house will no doubt have its share of windows and wildlife, but nothing will ever replace the little creatures I have spent the past six years feeding, watching, loving.

I will leave my bird feeders behind so that maybe the next tenant will fill them; I will tuck a note somewhere in a drawer about the way the squirrels like a cob of corn each day but prefer to eat sunflower seeds straight from the bird feeder. I will tell the next tenant that cheap store brand sunflower seeds are just as good as the more expensive ones, and I will remind them to sprinkle several handfuls on the ground for the doves and littler birds who are too shy to fight for perch space.

And I will tell them how very lucky they are to wake up here every day. How very much I loved living here. And how very sorry I am for everything that I wanted so much to be, but failed at so miserably.

Music: Everybody Hurts by R.E.M. (lyrics)

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