“In order to see birds it is necessary to become a part of the silence.”
The goldfinches came back last week, and there was real joy in the Colgan-Davis household. This is, I think, the earliest the goldfinches have been at our feeders, and it was both surprising and wonderful to see them. I watched them zip across from tree to feeder, then to one of the bird baths where they sat for a while, had a drink and then went up into a the tree and then over the backyard fence. The goldfinches were back.
The Eastern Swallow Tailed butterflies are back also. I saw one as I was walking along Bryan Street this morning, and it flittered and fluttered from a neighbor’s bushes across my path and off down the street. It took me a couple of seconds to process what I was seeing-it seems a week or two early for them as well. But it was the swallowtail, and the sitting and eating in the backyard season would now be officially open.
My wife is a great gardener, and one of the joys of our house in Mt. Airy is sitting in back of the house and reading and eating. Yes, just being out in the air is wonderful, but there is the added joy of the design and plantings of flowers and shrubs to attracts birds and butterflies. We have several feeders for the birds, three places for them to bathe and drink, and a variety of plants and shrubs that over the years have helped draw a variety of butterflies, small perching birds, woodpeckers, mourning doves and more. This has been a huge part of our time here and It brings great peace and joy. Often we just sit in the quiet watching the birds and butterflies and marveling. As twilight comes we get the wonderful interplay of light and darkness and animal activity that makes being outside so wonderful. It is almost like camping in the city. But it took time to get it to this place, and it takes time still. There was clearing out some of what was growing there when we moved in, trying to choose what plants would grow in our area, experimenting with different combinations of and locations for different plants, going to various workshops on planting a bird and butterfly garden, and always trying to come up with new ways to fight those damn squirrels. The big decision was removing an old garage from the property and painstakingly extending the garden another third of a block. My wife did the planning and design, my son and I supplied the muscle, some landscapers supplied some of the skills, and the wonderful space we now have gradually took shape. It took time, work, effort, faith and a lot of love.
As those of you who maintain and plant gardens know, that work is both part of the endless joy of having a garden and part of the, well, work of having a garden. Like most things of value and importance it takes regular effort, some hard work, and doses of hope and faith to enable a garden to get through one year and into the next. It also often takes pruning and/or getting rid of something that is no longer working and re-evaluating what is still there to maintain and/or improve the true beauty of the landscape. Spring can be a good reminder that we probably need to do a little of that careful tending in other areas of our lives as well as in our gardens. A little timely pruning, the occasional re-planting, and some re-imagining has been known to work wonders on more than the ground. Renewal and rebirth can be about more than just what is in the ground. I will think about that as I drink in and enjoy the glories of another spring.