catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 6, Num 10 :: 2007.05.18 — 2007.06.01


Gardening lessons

Part 4 of 10


Warm, sunny September days are my favourite.  The frost hasn't hit the annuals yet so impatiens, geraniums and coleus are still sharing their vibrant colours amidst the more somber greens of the perennials. The golden leaves of the elms and oaks in the neighborhood contrast with the brilliant blue of the sky and the Virginia creeper on the fence shows a range of reds that seems impossible. These are days meant to drink in and enjoy.

That was my intention this morning.  I poured myself a mug of good coffee, grabbed a book and headed to the sunroom. I only read a few pages when the glory of our little yard distracted me and I put the book down.  Flitting among all the plants and colours were the little flocks of birds that have discovered the feeder and birdbath in the back yard.  I have grown really fond of these little creatures and am able to recognize some of them by their song and their behavior.

A pair of chipping sparrows built a nest by our kitchen window and for two weeks we watched them care for their hatchlings.  Through sunshine, storms, raiding squirrels and under the eyes of ominous crows they carried on with a constant supply of food. Soon all three little ones grew feathers and flew away.  I assume that the chipping sparrows at the feeder now are the parents or offspring we watched this summer.

I know the "pipping" call and the scratching noise the nuthatch makes as it scurries up and down the elm tree looking for morsels in the grooves of the bark. I like how it climbs up and down the pole of the bird feeder, how it pecks at the suet feeder and I wonder if it goes to its nest when it swoops over to the oak tree next door.

I've also discovered that not all those little brown birds are sparrows.  I thought that a few of them had overeaten the sunflower seeds I put in the feeder and had grown obese.  But sadly, one of these larger birds didn't survive a collision with our front window and I could identify it as an ovenbird.  They like to hop in grass to look for food so they are the birds on the ground under the feeder, gleaning the seeds the sparrows spilled.

After a while you notice that some birds will share the feeder with other birds, but some won't.  I saw a little yellow warbler chase away a sparrow and then settle in for a nice meal.  And today a beautiful dark-headed, white-breasted bird started to eat from the feeder and look for insects in the tree. My bird books tell me it is a dark eyed junco.

An hour passed and all I had done was enjoy the activity of the birds. I realized how true Matthew 6: 26 is: "Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable then they?"

My time watching the birds is amusing and restful but it also awe inspiring.  I need a guidebook to try to name these few creatures in my yard and I have no idea where they live or how they survive the cold and the rain. But God does. He created them all to have the instincts they need to live and  to flourish. Even better, this time with them draws me back to Him.  Enjoying September days helps me to remember that He is all I need to live and to flourish too.

Next:  December 

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