This Velvet Ashes Book Club (which I lead) is currently reading Consider the Birds by Debbie Blue. Last week the chapter we read was about the sparrow. I laughed when Debbie ran into her friend and neighbor Diane in the driveway. “‘I need to talk to you about sparrows.” She may not have exactly narrowed her eyes, but that’s how I remember it.’ And later at the birthday party when Debbie couldn’t help bringing up the subject of sparrows again. We’ve all been there, haven’t we, when we can’t help but talk about a subject even though we know others don’t want to talk about it.
I had no idea the sweet sparrow was known by birders as HOSP—HOuse SParrow on bird forums—and produced such passionate responses from people. As I read this chapter, I couldn’t imagine getting so worked up over a bird.
And then I remembered my grandma.
As a child from Colorado, when we visited my grandparents in Michigan (two days drive away) it was exciting to see cardinals and bluejays—about the only two birds I can actually identify because one is red and the other blue. My grandparents loved birds and even counted birds one year for the Audubon society. They had bird feeders outside of most of the windows and conversations were often sprinkled with commentary of what was happening outside.
It was at the kitchen table I learned, “Bluejays are hogs! HOGS!”—pounding on the window—”I did not put that food out there for you, you HOG, go away!” More pounding. Since I didn’t have a bird in the fight, so to speak, it was mildly funny watching someone get so riled up about a bird.
Fast forward to this past summer. Oh, God has a sense of humor. Humming birds built a nest in a tree near my sister’s house. Humming birds are cute! Their babies are tiny and adorable. My nieces would call with updates and hummingbird sightings and facts. So fun. So exciting. So small. So cute!
Crows built a nest in the tall tree across the street from Mom and me. After the babies hatched they seemed to be instantly the size of their parents. Maybe not, but that’s how it seemed to me from the ground.
Their nest was in a perfectly fine tree surrounded by perfectly fine trees; but the parents decided the perfect place to train the adolescent crows on how to be crows was in our backyard. Every morning and afternoon the entire awful crow family would fly over to our trees and spend time in “Crow School.”
Turns out crow school involves a lot of sitting around (Why?! Why?! You are birds. Fly.) and squawking incessantly and defecating. On more than one occasion I actually went outside and screamed at them to be quiet and to take their training lessons elsewhere. Um, so maybe I can picture getting riled up over a bird.
My sister Laura has a tattoo of a crow on the majority of her forearm. Before she visited this summer, I warned her to be prepared to regret that decision after she saw upfront how AWFUL crows are (incessant squawking makes me cranky). Guess what those cheeky crows did?! They hung out at the end of street during her entire visit. What?! She would laugh at me when we would drive past them and I’d yell at them to never visit again. So, her love of crows (or me) wasn’t dented.
The day after she left—the very next day—two of the crows came over in the morning. Seriously? Are birds that smart?! I admit to checking if this book had a chapter on crows, because I didn’t think I had it in me. Smile. As I read about the crazed HOSP folks, I thought about the crazed person in my mirror. And how God uses birds, and books, and you in my life.
What animals or birds have pestered/taught you lesson?