Nature’s Prayer Moment


Yesterday morning I stepped up to the kitchen sink to fill the tea pot and looked out my window at the flowers exploding in my yard. I glanced over to the fountain where I saw dozens of identical birds taking drinks in a clumped up circle around the top of my round fountain.
Their backs were tan,, their heads crested, and the tips of their tails were orange. Suddenly something startled them, and they whooshed up into the trees, exposing their canary yellow breasts.
Whoa! I’ve never seen a bird like that before.
I stood at the sink for another several moments, watching the birds alternate from fountain to tree, tree to fountain. They reacted in unison, a co-dependent group, for sure. There must have been fifty or more, carbon copies of one another.
Should I reach for my camera? My cell phone?
I was looking at them through the glass and the screen behind it. If I opened the slider, they would be gone in a flash. Another imperceptible noise, and they scattered into the trees. They were migrating from somewhere to somewhere else, exotic birds moving down the coast, my yard a way station on their way to ?
I didn’t see them again until . . .
Yesterday afternoon I had a bookies meeting with my two co-authors around my dining room table. The woman in the chair facing the yard looked up and saw a flash of yellow in my tree.
“What is that?” she asked. “Look over there, behind that branch!”
I explained about the birds that morning as she sat, transfixed on the yellow feathered creature in my tree.
“That’s a once in a lifetime bird for my bird watcher friend,” she said.
The discussion of our sex-after-surgery book went out the window while we Googled yellow crested birds with tan backs and orange-tipped tail feathers.
The cedar waxwing kept popping up as I scrolled through dozens of photos, but the stripe at the ends of their tail feathers was yellow, not orange.
“How do you get birds like that in your yard?” the other writer friend asked.
“Native plants, a water feature, no pesticides?” I said. “ I don’t really know.”
“My birdwatcher friend would call this a bucket-list moment,” the other writer friend said.
I stood at the kitchen window again, but the huge group of birds from that morning was gone. Only one straggler remained in the tree to thrill my friend.
“Yes, it was a prayer moment this morning,” I said. “Nature’s magic.”

A person doesn’t have to be religious to appreciate nature. I’ve heard friends say that nature is their church, and on Sunday mornings they hike instead of attend services. You’ve got to admit, as we live our rat-race lives of work, eat, sleep, and dance, it’s usually nature that can stop us and take our breath away, if only for a moment, like a flash of yellow and orange in your backyard tree.
Or a whole group of them at your fountain.

Couldda Wouldda Repeatta

Today the cedar wax wings were back (albeit with yellow-tipped tails), along with fat robins and dozens of tiny yellow and black finches plus other unidentified birds. It was a cold, windy day, and the fountain and three feeders were a buzzin’ all afternoon.

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