Sunday, May 31, 2015

Trees and Birds and Songs

Twenty-one years ago, my husband and I planted three pin oaks, a red maple, four crape myrtles, and a red bud on our property. It was an enviable task for a property our size. Trees that would grow and fill our empty yard with tranquil beauty. Today, they stand as lonely, rustling giants in a neighborhood planted mostly with small ornamental trees. They provide cooling shade for our family and dogs on hot summer days and a sheltered break from the fierce winds that sweep across the southern Great Plains.

There were a few times we thought we were going to lose them due to infestations and drought and brutal storms that lopped branches and partially pulled their roots from the ground. Gentle nurturing and training of primary limbs helped them grow sturdy and tall. Be strong, we whispered.

I love trees.

They are sanctuary to a number of native birds -- starlings and sparrows, flycatchers and mourning doves, and an occasional cedar waxwing. Our trees are a nesting and shelter oasis for them. This morning I counted three nests in the lower branches, curious about how many babies our trees have born and fed. Empty now of those who left their nests many weeks ago; resting silent and sturdy and patient for next year's inhabitants. I could just make out tufts of Penny fluff I'd brushed from my dog and let float away on the breeze -- confident they would find their way into a nest or two. Here you go, I whispered.

I love birds.

Sometimes they are bold, risking an occasional chase by our dogs. They come to the covered patio to sneak a little kibble or a sip from the burbling fountain. They sit on the patio fence and trill their bird-song, thanking me for the trees and food and drink and gentle dogs who share their bounty with them. But other times, they sit in the trees and call to one another instead of to me. Fluttering from branch to branch, waiting for the dogs to lazily nod off for a late morning nap so they can glide onto the lawn and feast on the insects that live there.

Who could've known, so long ago, when the trees were young and the birds were not there, that one who would lose her hearing would love these bird-songs so? The trees knew, I think. And so did the birds. They were waiting to bless me on this cool, cloudy day. Waiting for me to sit quietly on the patio and hear them sing to me songs I can hear when I cannot hear any other.

We're here for you, they whispered. Hear us sing.