But for the birds in my yard today I think I might be overwhelmed with sadness as a result of the recent, disturbing news on the international,national and local level. It seems the longer I live the more deeply the world's hurts bore into my daily consciousness and I do not know what to do with their effects, especially since most of the situations are far beyond my control. Fortunately for me, the birds are here and being that we are in "the bleak midwinter", they are hungry...which is really why they come, of course. Out my living room window, where I am writing, I can look up and see downy woodpeckers, goldfinches, pine siskins, Carolina chickadees, and tufted titmice in the tree branches of the front yard. The siskins and goldfinches are feeding from feeders, but also from the tiny seeds of the sweet gum balls that are still hanging on the tree. The woodpeckers, chickadees and titmice are feeding from a homemade peanut butter suet mixture but also from dead branches and a large hollowed out piece of tree trunk we attached to the sweet gum a couple of years ago hoping to attract screech owls . From this window I have watched the Carolina wren, the chickadees, the titmice and the woodpeckers going in and out of the large hole all morning and I wonder what they are finding inside.
Pennsylvania has been invaded by pine siskins and by white-winged crossbills this winter. Both are usually a northerly species that sometimes come this far south when the cone crops fail in their home range. Both have found refuge and nourishment from Pennsylvania's trees and people and we who watch birds are delighted to have them as part of our avian neighborhood this winter. Come spring they will be gone and probably won't be back in numbers like we are now having for decades. Because of today's extremely cold and windy conditions I spent a good part of the morning taking care of my feeders and thinking about where to add new ones and I finally got around to installing our old Christmas tree in the front yard as a temporary winter shelter. It is also a good place to hang pine cones covered with peanut butter and sunflower seeds as high energy treats. I will be watching through the day to see which birds first figure out that the cones are edible and start feeding.
It was in the process of making the peanut butter pine cones that I thought about feeling like a child again today. Making them took a good bit of time and effort...there was the gathering of the pine cones, the making of hangers out of some thin wire I bought this morning, the mixing of the peanut butter, lard, pecan meal and cornmeal, the rolling of the sticky cones in sunflower seed bits and finally braving the wind and taking them out to the newly installed Christmas tree to hang them....just what I needed to get through this frigid windy day in good humor. I thought about how children feel when they are happily working on a project, no matter how humble. Until they reach an age of worrying about other people's opinions they are proud and pleased with their creative prowess, and then delighted in the final result. I felt the same sense of satisfaction with my own efforts. It was a balm for my sadness to be doing something constructive, something that would tangibly benefit the creatures in my tiny bit of the world. Small an effort though it may be, I know that what I can provide sustains beings that come to find nourishment here and in the result warms and enriches me as well. On this cold, blustery and inhospitable day I feel once again the old delight in partnering with God in caring for what He has made. I only wish I could do the same for the inhabitants of rest of the world.