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Strictly for the Birds

Growing up in a family of eight kids, we learned a lot from my parents.  As in a lot of things you don’t necessarily hear being taught much anymore. Or as some might say, old school kinds of things.

Like setting a birthday card out on the table for everyone  in the family to sign then putting it the mail to an out of town aunt, uncle, or cousin.  Or pausing an extra 20 seconds to hold a door open for someone.  Or how about something  as seemingly insignificant as feeding the birds in your backyard leftover bits of bread.

My Mom is almost 90 years-old and even though she’s not quite the spry spring chick she once was, for as long as I can remember, when it comes to feeding our winged friends, she has always set aside the heel pieces from sandwich bread, or the random hamburger bun past its prime, as well as the unavoidable collection of chips you find at the bottom of the bag no longer big enough to grab and munch—that is, unless you’re the type to hoist the bag and drain every last bit of salty goodness directly into your mouth akin to sinking the 8 ball in the corner pocket—not that I’ve ever done anything quite so uncouth myself…

But I digress because the flip side to collecting all those leftover morsels comes in the big payoff.  That being to sit back and quietly wait for said backyard birds to A) first discover their serendipitous bounty,  followed by B) observing  as they hesitantly, hop, hop, hop ever closer toward their unexpected treasure as if this culinary delight of aviary proportions might suddenly disappear like one of those watery highway mirages.

As we speak, I just repeated this time-tested family ritual for here I sit, in the comfort and relative obscurity of my screen porch, watching as the siren call of scattered bread brings first one, then two, then what seems like a veritable flock of birds as they come to a fluttery 3.0 landing so as to feast on the carba-palooza.

For my part, I find it fascinating to watch two birds lay claim to the same bit of bread, inevitably accompanied by loud squawking and territorial wing flapping—as if to say ‘Hey! I was here first.  Go find your own piece!’  Or the equally common experience of seeing one of them hip hop over to a dead leaf, peck at it a time or six in the hopes it will be the treasure they’re hoping for, while oblivious to the real thing laying just inches away fairly shouting ‘Woo hoo! Over here bird brain!’

Both scenarios invariably bring me to the same conclusion…  How like us as people to raise our voices and assert ourselves (sometimes to the point of great harm) when someone tries to horn in on what we deem to be rightfully ours.  How equally like us to search and search for our respective pot of gold only to trip over it in front of our very beak on our never-ending pursuit of that which we think will satisfy.  

Good thing some parents still pass down the simple things.  Better yet is knowing that God cares for even us sparrows.