2000-04-27
Dear Diary:

The cats and I are easily amused.

We three like to eat our breakfast watching the birdfeeders just outside the kitchen window. I suspect, though, that the kitties may be watching the antics at the feeder from a somewhat different perspective than I.

The feeders in winter. We all try not to snicker at Paul, but watching his reaction to the feeders cracks me up.

My spousal unit cannot stand waste. It makes him crazy. Because we have so many feeders and leave them up all year, the birds have become very picky about what seed they will and will not eat.

So sometimes we'll get a chickadee that will pitch six, seven sunflower seeds out on to the ground before it finds that one perfect seed. If my husband happens to be looking out the window at this moment his voice will rise and he'll say, "Did you see that? Did you?"

If we happen to have a streak of four or five birds doing this simultaneously, my husband's voice reaches the range once attained by Frankie Valli (of Four Seasons fame, and none of you neonates have heard of this singer from the '60's, so let me hasten to add that it's a most striking falsetto.)

Paul's deepest outrage, however, is reserved for the blue jays. If I see one at the feeder I do my best to distract him because, frankly, I'm too young to be a widow. I'm afraid one day he will have a stroke because of the jays.

See, the jays don't daintily pick up the seed with their beaks and discard the unwanted ones. Oh no, they take their beaks and use them as shovels and toss mass quantities of seeds out of the feeders.

This deeply, deeply offends my husband. I have seen him yelling, waving his arms, veins pulsing in his neck as he scares them from the feeders because of their profligate ways. I find it very hard to keep a straight face when he does this, which only ratchets up my spousal unit's annoyance level. Oh dear.

Paul's father was a passionate birder. He kept a lot of himself locked away, as men of that generation seemed to do, but his love of birds was one way in.

It always amazed me that he could stand in the yard and know what was singing in the woods around us. Me, I know the birds who say their names ? the chickadees, the phoebes ? but after that I'm lost, sad to say. Poppa knew them all.

It will be four years this fall that Poppa has been dead. Hard to believe, really. We still have chickadees down at his place that will come and eat out of your hand, one of his many legacies. Odd, isn't it, the things we leave behind?

Sometimes a picture perfectly sums up a whole relationship.  This one makes me tear up every time I look at it. Poppa had an especially big place in his heart for my daughter. She grew up during his retirement and spent a lot of time with her grandparents.

When she first learned to walk, I was afraid something was wrong with her legs because she had an odd, locked knee gait.

Then I realized that she was imitating her beloved grandfather, whose knees were bad and who walked with the same stiff legs.

Poppa daydreaming. Poppa's last year was a difficult one, continual ill health, a steady decline.

We had one of those extraordinarily long Indian Summers his last autumn. Sick as he was, he spent a lot of time out in the yard soaking up the sun, much as a cat does, just savouring the joy of being.

Our valley is a passageway for the Canada geese as they head south. They are just distant specks far off in the sky, a straggling vee shape, their cries barely audible. But one day during Poppa's last autumn, as I was walking down the drive towards him with Paul's brother, Mike, the most magical thing happened.

The geese came through, but they came through so low that it felt as if we could reach up and touch them. The din was unbelievable as they called out to each other. The power it takes for birds this massive to fly was clearly visible.

We froze, all of us, transfixed. Poppa was incandescent with happiness. Even he had never seen anything like that in the forty five years he lived here.

When the geese were gone, the normal calm of our valley seemed deeper somehow.

Within a few weeks of that, Poppa was gone, too.

He was a very quiet man, didn't have a lot to say. Until he died, I didn't know you could miss a person's silences.

But you can.

--Marn

Old Drivel - New Drivel


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Want to delve into my sordid past?
She's mellllllllllllllting - Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2012 - Back off, Buble - Monday, Dec. 19, 2011 - Dispersed - Monday, Nov. 28, 2011 - Nothing comes for free - Monday, Nov. 21, 2011 - None of her business - Friday, Nov. 04, 2011 -


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