The Birds of Winter

cardinal-2

Today, I’m featuring a short story written by my brother, James. I’d like to think my passion for writing is rubbing off on him…

 

The Birds of Winter

By James Bennett

I knew returning to Michigan was going to be hard. Under these circumstances perhaps even harder. It had just started to snow as I arrived at my mother’s house. A gust of cold wind blew across my neck as I made my way to the door. She was ready with a glass of wine and a deck of cards hoping to make up some lost time. It’s been tough for her since her father died two months ago. Especially on Sunday when we used to gather for the traditional family dinner.

We sat down at the kitchen table and had time for a few games before my brother and sisters arrived. “Gin again,” my mother said as she slapped down her cards. I had never quite got the hang of the game she taught us when we were kids. She left me there to shuffle the cards as she journeyed to refill her drink.

Just then a cloud passed overhead and cast a shadow on the room. When I glanced outside I noticed a bright red Cardinal staring at me from the feeder. I was mesmerized by his flickering motion and instantly transported on a memory to my grandfather’s house. I was six years old standing perfectly still in a foot of snow with my arms outstretched. Wrapped in a faded purple snowsuit that was handed down from my sister, I waited patiently.

I remember my grandfather telling me that if I was perfectly still, they would come. And as the minutes passed, standing there trying not to shiver from the cold, they came. I was hypnotized by the movement, watching them dart back and forth. I could see them jump around on the different feeders hanging from the small maple tree. They would jump from a branch to the feeder and back again waiting for their turn. Sometimes they would light in the huge black walnut tree just down the hill and sometimes they would seem to appear out of nowhere. I knew each type of bird. My mother and grandfather both taught me the difference between Sparrows, Wrens, Finches and a dozen others.

Finally, it happened. First a Chickadee, then another, then a Wren and two sparrows. They took turns hopping in and out of my hands taking a bit of seed each time. Their tiny feet felt like snowflakes dancing in my hand. I’ve never felt closer to nature.

“What are you staring at?” my mother said as she returned with her drink.

“I was just remembering when grandpa taught us how the birds could eat out of our hands.”

“I haven’t thought about that for years. What made you think of that?”

“I just noticed the birds outside on your feeder. Do they stick around all winter?”

“Of course,” she said.

“But, don’t most birds migrate for the winter? What makes these stay though the harsh bitter cold months?”

“Well, because, this is their home and this is where their families are.” After a moment, we both smiled at each other.

“Now deal the cards,” she said.

xxx

Thanks again for stopping by. Did you enjoy the story?

Let James know in the comments.

Happy 2017—a Year of Kindness & Encouragement!

 

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