Seeing Red: Lesson from the Birds

Apple Blossom Tree Berries, December, 2016

December 12: Boston Globe headlines: CIA finds Russia Worked to Aid Trump: secret report sees ties to hacked DNC e-mails given to Wiki-Leaks.

Upon lifting the shade, I notice three red plump robins leaping about on the branches of the evergreens outside my bedroom window. The fact of their plumpness in early December, the question of what they might be foraging to feed such ampleness, gives me pause. The morning is chill-bone cold, the result of the Polar Express winds roaring through. The garden, the pond, the soil are frozen.

Within minutes, I notice more birds— blue jays in fast flight, their striated wings propelling them across the line of evergreens and back towards the front garden, out of my vision. Soon, there are more: grey and black chickadees, a small flock of black birds, all hurried, appearing excited, fleeting towards and away from the evergreens.

It is the lone red cardinal, on the ground, in flight across the evergreens to my neighbors yard and back again to the front garden, that propels me to a front window. He joins the fat robins, lights on a limb of the apple blossom tree loaded with small, fleshy red berries thawing in the low sun.

I am grateful to delay reading the stories behind the headlines, to resist flocking to the maelstrom surrounding the Putin/Trump bond, Trump’s cabinet choices.

I am grateful to focus on the wisdom of birds, their attraction to acts of nature for their nurture. According to Mother Nature Network, birds are attracted to fruit bearing trees and pick fruits that persist on the tree; the smaller the fruit, the easier it is for the bird to eat.

I dress, grab a coat and my I-phone. I am compelled to see the red berries, the branches, close-up. I face the sun, click on a hazy image, walk more slowly, the sun at my back, to take three more shots. The last, close in, is the best. I want to show the red wet, spongy flesh, like the cranberries I simmered in a wine sauce for Thanksgiving dinner.

In due time, I return to the headlines and delve into the stories. All day long, I flitter in and out of the news, attracted to the possibility of Russian involvement, its meaning in terms of the election, the electoral college, the authenticity of the results. I have lived through red scares—McCarthyism, the Cuban missile crisis, the Cold War and now, the Cyber-insurgence, the war of undo influence.

This morning, the birds have flown, the evergreens are quiet; the grey squirrels are back. I am grateful for the lessons learned: to pay attention to the unusual, to take the time to pause, to notice, to dig for meaning. Sometimes, there is delight in red.





12 thoughts on “Seeing Red: Lesson from the Birds

  1. Claudine

    Dear Fayewriter
    What a glorious blog today. I see the cardinal with you and enjoy the view out the window. We are all doing our best with the news these days and you set such a good example to remember to look out at nature no matter what is happening in the country and the world. It is good for me to remember how privileged we are in our homes and landscape

    1. fayewriter Post author

      Claudine, I totally agree with your point about privilege. Yet,I’ve had occasions, far from my own landscape in dense, urban settings where I’ve experienced beauty in unexpected places.

    1. fayewriter Post author

      In your location, there is much to seek and enjoy. Just the naked trees offer unique and interesting shapes in varying light and how about the view out your back window? Any birds?

  2. Hy Kempler

    Oh we sure need distraction from the challenging world we live in. Your piece reminds me of the need for patience and investigating carefully the news we hear and see.

    1. fayewriter Post author

      Hy, yes, distraction that enriches, calms, balances, which I find in nature, humor, good writing and conversation. Thanks for reflecting on the meaning I was intending. Yes!

  3. Rosemary Booth

    I like the use here of a plain and simple word/idea–“red”–and how the writer indirectly explores the ambiguity hidden in its meaning, Veering from nature (robins, cardinal) to politics (McCarthyis, Cold War). I also like how the contrast suggests a chain of opposite associations; “seeing red” versus “painting the town red,” for instance–and leaves me pondering.

    1. fayewriter Post author

      Rosemary, when I came to the end of my writing and reflected on how a tracked the word “red,” I was surprised at how many level of meaning popped up. Sometimes, the unconscious shows up in not so mysterious ways! Thank you for your careful reading!

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