The Twelve Birds of Christmas – “Spread the Word”

“Spread the Word”
The 12 Birds of Christmas – a series featuring a bird each day of our journey to Bethlehem. May these “things with feathers,” give us hope and inspiration as we prepare for the coming of the Child, whom we anticipate; worship and adore.
It’s fitting we begin our series today, December 8 – my mother’s birthday. She would have been 101 today. She loved birds and as I recount in her memoir, “In the Garden,” birds gave her encouragement when life came at her hard in the 1930’s, when she and Henry lived and worked on the land, now Country Dairy.
The black-capped chickadee was one of her favorite birds and though she and Henry could not coax the chickadee to build a nest in one of their many birdhouses, she was always thrilled when the plump feathered wonder with black cap and bib, alit on a tree nearby and peeled out its “chickadee – dee – dee.”

black capped chickadee
Black – capped chickadee

“On a crisp Monday morning in mid – April, Ellen had just pinned her last bedsheet onto the clothesline, when a little black-capped chickadee perched on a branch overhead, trilling its heart out. “Oh you beautiful little creature,” Ellen called. Something about that plump little bird lifted her spirits and gave her a burst of hope (like the cardinals had done earlier{pg. 23}.
Ellen felt a deep longing within – it seemed to come from the very depths of her being, her soul, an awakening to nature and the power of birds trilling, breezes blowing, clothes flapping in the wind. It was in that moment she knew there was a power beyond all that she could see, smell, hear and feel.
She had learned about God in church and Sunday school and had publicly professed her faith when she was eighteen…But now in a bird’s song, she experienced the God of creation and revelation in her heart. In the bird’s song, the budding of the trees, the cool refreshing breeze and the tulips blooming by the side of the house, she knew her Lord. She didn’t have to worry about her new life on the farm or feel lonely and isolated when Henry left her to do his chores about the farm. With God’s help she could become the housewife she wanted to be for her Henry. She felt strangely moved, changed. She had experienced a kairos moment – a moment out of time…Feeling refreshed, Ellen picked up her clothes basket and went inside.” (ITG pp. 27,28)

mountain chickadee
Mountain chickadee

Ellen’s experience with the chickadee is described in a poem by Emily Dickinson: “Hope is a thing with feathers, that perches in the soul; it sings the song without the words, and never stops at all.”
When nesting is over and the young are on the wing, chickadees form flocks of eight or twelve birds, which roost and forage together until spring. Ellen’s chickadee was likely part of such a flock. Finding food in the winter is tough and hunting in groups increases the chances for success. As the band of birds flits about among the trees and shrubs searching for pupae and insect eggs, they keep an eye out for each other. When one of them discovers a tidbit, the rest of the flock twitter and chirp enthusiastically, spreading the word that food has been discovered. In this way, new food-source bulletins are disseminated throughout the band.
The lesson of the chickadee: “Go tell it on the mountain…” As you journey to Bethlehem this season, spread the message of Jesus’s birth to others – a message of peace, love and hope.
Challenge: Can you find the minute feature which sets the mountain chickadee apart from its black-capped cousin?. Answer below.
Happy Birthday Mom. May you be surrounded by a flock of black – capped chickadees today and may the full – throated ease of their singing fill your soul.
Answer to the challenge: (a white eyebrow)
Note: This post is a tribute to my mother on what would have been her 101st birthday)Hoeing "In the Garden" #4 - Of Lilies and Sparrows


I Love Quirks

I love quirks!  That’s because I have so many. I think quirks keep life interesting.  I tell my husband that if you don’t have quirks you must be a dull person.  He’s not so sure…. Wouldn’t you know he’s a CPA – a business person who likes things neat and orderly – how he married me is a mystery.  For starters, my life is a sequence of piles.  As hard as I try, they keep accumulating all over the house.  Filing cabinets and systems are not useful to me. I like my stuff out in the open not stored away out of sight – because out of sight is out of mind and if I can’t see my stuff, I might forget about it.  The thing is, I can always find what I’m looking for.  That’s because I alphabetize my piles from top to bottom.  Also interesting(quirky)is how I can be talking with someone and flit from one topic to another – it’s the way my brain is wired and it takes a fair amount of talent.  Now, my children have learned to follow me from one subject to another (remember there are no transitions or segways to help), but my husband just can’t keep up with me and it rattles him.  Funny, how I know exactly where I am in our conversation and he’s hopelessly lost.  And, then there’s the issue of time.  He feels a need to be on time, but every time we’re scheduled to be somewhere, I get this energy burst(like I felt on the day I delivered my babies) and bustle about doing little odd jobs around the house or running errands on the way to our destination.  I think it’s a waste of time to be early – to be fashionably late is my way – it’s well, fashionable. There are more, but you get the idea.  I write a children’s series called, Tales From Pelican Cove, portraying nature and shorebirds from Florida and beyond.  I think I find birds interesting, because in the research for my books, I’ve discovered they have quirks too!  Kindred spirits!  In my new book, Presley’s First Day of Fishing, coming out this week, Presley a young brown pelly, puts a little twist into his dive that’s very cool.  In another book, Baldwin, a bald eagle steals fish from an osprey and the osprey, called Ossie, after catching a fish, turns it around in his talons to make his flight home more aerodynamic.  It’s fascinating!  Laughing gulls sit on pelicans’ heads attempting to steal their fish and blue wing teals can spring into flight from a standstill.  Birds, called dabblers upend with tails in the air and nibble off the bottom of a cove or pond.  One day, I noticed a male night heron return home to his shebird with a twig in his beak, where he transferred it to his shebird whereupon she stuffed it down into a pile – did you get that – a pile of twigs that had the makings of a nest.  I’ve also noted that birds flit about – yes, flit and they are very busy and energetic.  I’ve pointed out these notable traits to my husband. He’s not impressed and doesn’t see the relevance to my life at all.  No matter. Welsh terriers are a rare breed, I remind him and I need to write my sister.  Why?  You know she had shoulder surgery yesterday.  Let’s see now, in which pile did I put her address? 

        “I love the house where you live, O Lord; the place where your glory dwells.”  Psalm 26:8