I’ve been watching a couple of Eastern Bluebirds in my yard since spring. Against the backdrop of my neighbor’s barn, they’ve built their home inside a rustic gray bird house nailed against an ancient power pole. I watched as they worked days and days on end bringing back scraps of bark and twigs and string. I witnessed their war with a Mockingbird who insisted he was moving in too. The smaller blue birds won through tenacity alone. I waited patiently hoping to see evidence of a new family for the two. The multitude of bugs they carried in through the perfectly sized hole in the front of their house was surely for feeding chicks. I watched and waited content in the cool mornings to sit and listen to the Bluebirds and their hundred bird choir fill the morning with song.
My folks came for a visit late last spring and we sat on the porch as usual drinking our coffee and watching the Bluebirds. I asked my dad how many birds he thought were singing at once and he replied, “Hundreds.” My mom looked up from her phone and asked, “You can hear birds singing?” My heart sank. Hundreds of birds were filling the morning air with sound and my mom couldn’t hear a single one. We had known for some time that Mom was struggling with her hearing. There were misunderstandings and requests for repetition of phrases which she would repeat back incorrectly and we would rephrase thinking she didn’t understand. But it was shocking to realize that she was missing something as significant to me as bird song. She was living in a different world than me, one with no bird sounds and it made me sad. She promised to look into a hearing aid as soon as she returned home.
The Bluebirds showed up less and less as summer turned hot and dry. Their baby birds never revealed themselves while I was on watch. Dad had his hip replaced and Mom had her final surgery after fighting cancer for years and surviving. Grandma turned 90 while the whole town showed up to celebrate and Mom got a hearing aid.
Mom and Dad came back for a visit over the fourth of July and the Bluebirds returned too. We sat on the porch together again, though the morning breeze was much hotter, and watched as the Bluebirds repaired their nest. In and out of that little hole they came and went and we pondered a second batch of chicks.
It’s amazing the things we take for granted. To know I can sit on the same porch with my mom and have such an entirely different experience in the same moment. My world full of song, her’s nearly silent. Mom feels good. She’s happy now, and she can hear the birds sing.
“Grant that we may not so much seek to be understood as to understand.” ~ St. Francis of Assisi
The Weather Channel had a picture of a cloud and lightning with raindrops in the 7 o’clock slot last night. We’ve been praying for rain all month and now it’s getting critical. I read in the newspaper that our small town only has minute’s worth of water in the tower it uses to supply the fire hydrants here. It’s dry and we’re approaching the fourth of July. Common sense would indicate avoiding anything with a spark but odds are someone is going to do something stupid.
So, we’ve been praying for rain. We’ve hung our hopes on that little icon of a thunderstorm.
After a hot sunny day with temperatures at somewhere near 105 degrees, the sky clouded over and then the wind picked up, a lot. I went outside to check the sky because I’m one of those crazy people who goes outside when a storm is approaching. I could smell it, ozone in the dry air. I could feel the humidity rise around me. The scorching wind was building and dust was puffing up from the dry grass as debris blasted across the yard. I scrunched up my eyes to protect them then threw out my arms and turned full circle as I was joined by my son and his girlfriend. “Can you believe it,” I asked. “It really might rain.” We were joyous, giddy really. I grabbed their hands and we ran to the driveway and danced in a circle and then my husband and younger son joined us. “You’re doing it wrong,” my older son said. “This is how you do a rain dance!” He slapped his knees and did a little jig and then slapped his shoulders in a crisscross and kicked out his heels. We tried to copy his steps and ended up laughing and spinning around in the wind with our arms outstretched, palms open to the sky. In the suddenly cool wind, I felt a single drop of rain hit my palm and evaporate. It was there and then it wasn’t. I prayed for rain and I received a single drop.
The purple sky soon lightened to gray; the wind died and the sunshine returned. The ground was still as parched as before the storm and we all returned to whatever we were doing before the wind came. I received a single drop of rain and the memory of a joyous random dance with my family.