A bad day for the birds

Do you ne’er think what wondrous beings these?
Do you ne’er think who made them, and who taught
The dialect they speak, where melodies
Alone are the interpreters of thought?
Whose household words are songs in many keys,
Sweeter than instrument of man e’er caught!

HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW

DSC01719 2
(5 tiny bluebird eggs / Julie Cook / 2015)

If you’ve followed much of cookiecrumbs for any length of time, then you know I love my birds.
Not the Atlanta Falcons or Hawks mind you nor some sort of pet parakeet but rather those beautifully wild birds which frequent my yard.
I just love all the various wild birds that either call my yard their permanent home or those more transient species who just happen by on a short lay over as they travel onward to wherever it is they go. . .

I enjoy the commotion on the feeders, especially after a recent replenishing.
I relish those fleeting occasional sightings of some rare bird making an impromptu pitstop.

From hummingbird to hawk, I love my birds.

Yet sadly there have been three incidents as of late which have left me rather troubled and to be honest, quite sad.

I realize that Nature is Nature–wild and free so to speak.
There’s that whole food chain thing going on. . .
The survival of the fittest. . .
That whole eat or be eaten mentality. . .
All out taking place in that yard of mine.
Be it raccoon, copperhead, rat snake, possum, mole, armadillo, coyote, bobwhite, bobcat, buzzard, cardinal, robin, turtle, lizard, chipmunk. . .living harmoniously is certainly a very fine line.

First my bluebirds.
We’ve had a family of bluebirds here in our yard for as long as we’ve lived in this house–a good 16 years. Offsprings return each year and continue raising generation after generation.
I have several boxes up for their choice of nesting.
Last year, on Mother’s day of all days, you may remember the whole bird box incident with my husband and how Mrs Bluebird did not have a happy mother’s day. I was shocked they decided to actually come back, giving us a second chance, but we won’t relive that little trauma drama right now. . .

I had watched with keen interest this Spring as mom and dad bluebird were first busy building a nest in the box of choice and then secondly how they worked in tandem to feed the hatchlings.

Yet oddly one strange day, all was silent. There was no activity of the usual flying back and forth. No little rising crescendo chorus greeting the latest tasty morsel of worm or bug delivered for meal time—a never ending mealtime.

I watched the box for a couple of days before taking my chance. . .I eased up to the box, twisting the latch to check inside.
I found nothing.
It was still too soon for the babies to have “flown” the proverbial coop—I fretted that a raccoon or snake or feral cat had had it’s way one dark and sinister night with my wee blue family. . .

Fast forward a couple of weeks when, once again, I notice a bevy of activity. Mom sitting with her tiny head poking out of the hole as if she was on patrol as Dad made the deliveries of tasty takeout.
This went on for about two weeks, when once again, out of the blue, nothing.
No noise,
No commotion,
No movement,
No mom.
No dad.

So once again after watching the box intently for several days, I slowly inched my way to the tree, lifting the latch. . .this time, resting gently in place were 5 beautifully blue eggs. Alone.
Mom and Dad had left the box. . .
But way?

The other seemingly tragic event came around the same time as the first bluebird batch disappearance.
There was a mockingbird who had built a nest in close proximity to the bluebirds box, with its nest perched up in a Tea Olive tree.
Mother and dad mockingbird were fiercely protective and equally as busy as Mr and Mrs Bluebird.
Mom had laid several beautiful eggs that hatched into several tiny little balls of fluffy down.

DSC01223
(mockingbird eggs / Julie Cook /2015)

DSC01305
(the tiny mockingbird fledglings / Julie Cook / 2015)

Yet oddly, their nest grew quiet at the same time as the bluebirds. . .which certainly raised my suspicions as to what was taking place in the cloak of darkness.

Lastly the final insult to injury for my beloved birds. . .

A couple of weeks ago I had shared a post featuring our new redheaded woodpecker family.
The first couple of these gorgeous birds to call our yard home. They were truly magnificent birds to watch purely because of their striking colors. A brilliant red head offset by the white and black body feathers.
I was so proud that this pair of beautiful birds had opted to call my yard home.

DSC01243

Their range was rather wide as I would often see them flying off to the woods across the street at the back of the neighbor’s pasture. They began to enjoy sitting on our black fence with runs the length of our property along the road. I imagined the pickings for bugs must have been ideal along the fence.

Last week, at the end of one long hot day finally returning home from Dad’s, I turned to pull into the driveway when I noticed what appeared to be a dead bird lying on its back in the middle of the driveway. Immediately I could hear my own voice echoing in the car “NO, NO, NO. . .”
Stopping the car to investigate further, my initial assumption was sadly was confirmed—-it was one of the woodpeckers.

DSC01702
(my beautiful redheaded woodpecker is no more / Julie Cook / 2015)

From my observation I noted some blood around the beak and sadly surmised that the bird perhaps had flown out and up at the same time a car had came barreling down the road.

I brought the bird down to the house and took it out in the back to bury it.

I always feel privileged when I am afforded a glimpse into the lives of the animals, birds, reptiles, fish that I share my little piece of the planet with. . .I’ve always felt as if God has given me a tiny precious gift each encounter, each observation. . .be it here in my own backyard or along the shores of the ocean or in the wilds of Alaska. . .Those created creatures both majestic and beautiful, wild and free. . .creatures I am tasked with, as a steward of the planet and created creature myself who God entrusted with responsibility, to care for, honor and respect. . .

I am thankful for their presence in my world as they remind me of God’s grace as well as joy—as He must have taken great pleasure in their creation. . .

Here’s to my birds—may better days grace your horizons. . .

What might have been

“Never look back unless you are planning to go that way.”
― Henry David Thoreau

DSC01263
(a lone tiny blue bird egg placed into the nest of a wren / Julie Cook / 2015)

Every day they came and went.
In and out
Day in and day out
Rain or shine
Relentless and driven

Watchful
Weary
Skittish
Flighty
Suspicious

Upon each approach, deep within,
a loud din of chatter rose to a deafening crescendo. . .
Which would immediately cease upon each departure. . .

Were they or weren’t they. . .really inside?
Two came and two went
Yet the sound of many existed.
How many lived within?
How big have they grown?

And yet which is witnessed with all of life,
consistency and forever grow more and more elusive
The arrival of the quiet strange day proved just that

The zeal of activity was missing
Things had grown eerily quiet.
No flurry of the comings and goings
Emptiness hung in the air.

Oddly a cache of feathers was discovered nearby.
Had there been a struggle?
Had there been a violent encounter?
Were they the feathers of parent or child.
What had happened?
Had they all flown away?
Had they all made it?

Watching and waiting
There was nothing, no one
No one in
No one out
No sounds.
No clamoring
No singing
Nothing

With trepidation and grave concern
Slowly and carefully
The door is painstakingly raised.
There is not a sound
No shrill peeps
No squeaking or jabbering
No yellow wide opened mouthes
No bulging eyes
No downy feathers.
Nothing
Nothing but a lone, tiny blue egg. . .
and the myriad of question as to what might have been. . .

A shot at redemption

“If the characters are not wicked, the book is.” We must tell stories the way God does, stories in which a sister must float her little brother on a river with nothing but a basket between him and the crocodiles. Stories in which a king is a coward, and a shepherd boy steps forward to face the giant. Stories with fiery serpents and leviathans and sermons in whirlwinds. Stories in which murderers are blinded on donkeys and become heroes. Stories with dens of lions and fiery furnaces and lone prophets laughing at kings and priests and demons. Stories with heads on platters. Stories with courage and crosses and redemption. Stories with resurrections.”
― G.K. Chesterton

DSCN4973

I don’t know, does she look mad?
Maybe she’s just looking a bit weary, as in “not so fast missy, the jury’s still out on you!”
You may recall my mother’s day debacle.
The one I still don’t think I can talk about.
You know the one. . .
The one featuring the brand new purple martin house–the one I thought I had put together perfectly.

Then there was the husband with the best of intentions who thought he’d take down the old dilapidated purple martin house, rig a way to put up the one I screwed up assembling, all the while clueless that the bluebirds had moved into the slum, aka the old broken purple martin house.

The babies. . .oh the babies.
I can’t talk about it.
We didn’t know.
We didn’t see them. . .unitl it was too late.
Ugh. . .(picture my head hanging very very low)

Today the lopsided new martin house, the now crooked new thing that is dangling precariously on the 25 foot pole out in the field, is a constant sad reminder. . .it remains as we just can’t bring ourselves to bring it down in order to fix it.
More time must past.

Fast forward to yesterday.

I was out working in the yard, when suddenly, out of the corner of my eye, I saw what I thought to be a blue blur swooping past my head. I quickly turned, just in time, to catch the blue tail end of a bird darting in the birdhouse.

“Could it be?”
I wondered.
I hoped.
You may recall during my lamentation of the mother’s day disaster that there are 5 bird houses scattered throughout the yard–blue bird houses to be exact. Why in the world had they not chosen one of them?!

Fast forward to today.
As I was heading out the back door, rounding the end of the garage, I saw it.
A blue head poking out of a round hole.
“Camera, where is the camera when I need it???!!”
Proof, I need proof of my redemption!!

I run back in the house.
Then back out of the house.
Ugh—it’s gone.
I pull up a chair.
I gently perch the camera on my knee, zooming in just so and proceed to wait.

In about 5 minutes, she returns.
Ahhh. . .
They’re relocating!
Starting over, again.
See the warm smile on my face.

I feel that Hope, Life and Redemption is alive and well.
This as I utter a silent thank you Lord.

DSCN4976

I think I’m the one on the right

“Our anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows, but only empties today of its strengths.”
― Charles H. Spurgeon

“Some people feel guilty about their anxieties and regard them as a defect of faith. I don’t agree at all. They are afflictions, not sins. Like all afflictions, they are, if we can so take them, our share in the Passion of Christ”
― C.S. Lewis

DSC00686
(lovely relief masks found under an ancient bridge crossing over the Seine in Paris as seen from a bateau / Paris, France / 2011)

Ok so you would most likely assume that if a person had a life sized one of these standing about in one’s home, there would be a certain sense of well being, an understood knowledge that all was indeed quiet on the western as well as the eastern, the northern and the southern fronts and that everything would be under control right?

DSCN4772

And yet there is a prevailing sense that something big is coming.
Like it or not, it is indeed coming.
As in 26 days, less than a month, as in you’ve been hearing about, plotting and planning about this now for nearly 3 years. . .and yet, the foreboding sense of something huge and monumental coming, as in like it or not–it’s coming, is proving palpable.

Maybe it is assumed that everyone is hunkered down, ready and waiting.
All eyes are focused, ever so keenly scanning the horizon for the slightest bit of movement, fingers steady and poised on all sorts of triggers.
Preparedness is key!
Organization is paramount!
A stiff upper lip a necessity. . .

Andy yet. . .

You may recall that,one day last week, I had asked for prayers for my son who is suffering from complications from kidney stones. We thought he were going to have surgery this Tuesday–as in tomorrow– but it seems the doctors are opting for more tests Tuesday–as in tomorrow. There have been ultrasounds, blood work, a CT scan and now some sort of scope thingy is scheduled—for Tuesday–as in tomorrow.

For some reason, the fact that I keep reminding all living and breathing personnel residing in this particular doctor’s office that we have a wedding on June 7th—does not seem to deliver the same overwhelming sense of panic that it does for anyone but me and perhaps the bride to be, and maybe my son.

So, as of now, we’re on for a scope only Tuesday, as in tomorrow. The supposed surgery which was mentioned, the one that I think I heard as having something of a 2 week recovery time of such, as in there is this little thing such as a wedding taking place in less than a month, a wedding that has been in the making now for 3 years, as in it’s happening in historic Savannah, as in the famous park, as in this had to be set in stone over a year ago, as in come hell or high water we WILL all be present and accounted for, as in one would think a bride and groom would want to feel 100% on their wedding day, as in is this not becoming a bit of a hinderance to one’s health, as in maybe should I have gone into medicine since I seem to be the only one to have a better sense of time and priorities—or is that just a mother thing???

At any rate, I will hold onto my panic a bit longer, sharing it with this medical office as often as possible and will continue asking for prayers as I believe that prayer does indeed availeth much. . .
Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
James 5:16

And since we’re now talking about confessing. . .
Remember my voila moment from the other day?
The construction of my wonderful purple martin house?
The one I worked so hard putting together so that the birds wouldn’t think of me as a slum lord?
Remember the picture of the bluebird sitting on top of the collapsing old house I was wanting to replace?

Well . . .

It’s a bit of a long story.
One I really don’t think I’m emotionally sound yet to fully discuss but let’s just say that
A. My husband who thought he would be sweet and go out yesterday morning to remove the old one and replace it with the new one discovered that I may not have assemble it exactly correctly. . .

I know this comes as a great shock, but surprisingly, it seems that maybe I did not line up a couple of arrows correctly. Of which meant the pole wouldn’t fit up inside the house.

DSCN4771

Once the blasted thing is assembled, you can’t undo what you did—being plastic and having called for plastic bolts–there’s no unbolting plastic pushed in, as in not going anywhere, bolts. He had to rig some sort of brace. . .

B. Then there was the issue of the bluebird.

Bluebird you ask?
Remember the one sitting on top of the old house in the picture from the other day?
May I just say that my husband now feels really really badly, and I am really really sad.
There was a bit of a tragedy yesterday while he was taking down the old house—of which I’m still too traumatized to speak of—
Just remember the story of how I told you that there are the occasional usurpers who attempt taking ownership of the martin house—

You would think that with 5 bluebird boxes in the yard, a bluebird would never consider usurping a martin house. . .a martin house on a 25 foot wobbly pole perched precariously in the middle of a field?!

I don’t want to talk about it. It was an accident. In his excitement of bringing down the old and putting up the bootleg new, he never saw that they fell out. . .
I’m really sad—as is Mrs Bluebird. And it was mother’s day of all day’s—lets just say there were tears, a little screaming, a lot of feeling really badly, and the proverbial best laid plans—once again, run amuck. . .

So with all of this drama whirling about in and out of my world—may we all take pause this morning, breathing in deeply these immortal words . . .

DSCN4774