I’m sitting in my back yard, my zen space, on a comfortable glider. To my right is a forsythia garden, the ground covered with small river rocks, larger river rocks lining the fence, and a bird bath. I enjoy placing beautifully colored rocks, all so different, in the center of the basin, thinking the bees and hummingbirds will use it to drink from. Instead the birds are re-discovering the joy of bathing and drinking from it! Perhaps the bees and hummingbirds use it when I’m not around?
In front of me, there’s a small pond with a burbling waterfall. It’s home to three substantial, colorful and active goldfish, and water lettuce. The pond has a glut of day lilies to the left, even after thinning out half in the early spring. These are beginning to bloom, joining the two large spiderwort plants covered in blossoms, which are to the right of the pond. There are more river rocks of varying sizes, two pieces of drift wood, as well as a crane statue. The metal crane is there to scare away real cranes, who have eaten fish from the pond in the past–it works because they’re so territorial. The remaining pond edge has a rock paver walkway, leading just past the pond. On the other side of that path is an abundantly laden Concord Grape vine, climbing a black metal gazebo, with vines and tendrils that need tucking back into itself. Lush sedum plants fill much of the space below. Soon the sedum will be covered in domes consisting of tiny pink flowers, which will turn a deep rust color by late autumn. Hooking into the arched top of the gazebo is a wind chime with long metal tubes, creating deep melodious sounds when it’s moved by a breeze. Walking away from the pond and grape arbor, to the left of the path, there’s a two-sided shepherd’s hook holding a bird feeder and a red flowered hanging plant the hummingbirds enjoy. The bird feeder hasn’t been filled for several weeks because different types of birds, like grackles, downy woodpeckers, cowbirds and sparrows, throw seeds until they find the ones they like. The seeds not eaten germinate and fill the river rocks below with plants needing to be pulled. After removing rocks for easier access, birds have been eating many of the tossed seeds. It’s almost time to resurface that area with multiple layers of landscaping cloth and refill the feeder. I’m looking forward to seeing the bird parties at the feeder again!
To watch a bumble bee, heavily laden with pollen, bumbling her way on the spiderwort blossoms, I move closer. She’s so precise, so methodical, not missing any flowers. She lingers longer at some, so I imagine that flower has nectar for her. This amuses me, because watching her, I feel like she’s happy, content, doing her job. Suddenly, I hear a quick squawk and thump of a bird as it hits the sliding glass door on the nearby sunporch. I turn so quickly I see her falling. Her partner makes several frantic peeps as he flies into the Rose of Sharon bush next to the door. Then he flies away. I run over, hoping she’s only stunned herself, as it happens sometimes. There are small snowflake stickers on the glass to deter the birds from doing this, but sometimes they just don’t notice. Her eyes are closed, and she opens her mouth silently several times before relaxing into a crack on the walkway. I grab garden gloves to pick her up, thinking maybe she’s just in shock, but there isn’t a heart beat. My tears start to fall because she’s one of the Carolina Wrens that serenade me when I sit outside. Sometimes they sit on the posts of the deck, singing into the house windows. Or they perch on the branches of the Rose of Sharon and look in the kitchen window above the sink as they sing. To me. I tell them how beautiful their songs are, and they look straight at me, while singing so beautifully.
I’m feeling bereft. For her partner, for her family, for me.