I grabbed the cold, metal garage door handle and pulled upward. The large, frozen springs on each side squeaked and the wooden panels groaned as the door opened. Winter sunlight poured over the salty grime on the cement floor and onto the garden shelf. I stood and surveyed the watering cans, hooks, trowels and shovels, not really knowing what I was looking for. I only had a vision, was still missing the details.
This was the last thing on my long list of to-dos.
“Make a feeder to hold the bird seed bell.”
Tomorrow, I would be a convalescent trying to recover from cuts and wounds. I wanted a bird feeder outside my bedroom window. I knew I would be spending the biggest part of the next weeks in a chair in my room and needed something to look at.
Within a few minutes my dream took on shape. I nailed two wire baskets to a naked broomstick, and hammered it all into the frozen ground by the picture window. At last, I hung the seed bell inside the cage and stood back. Now, they could come.
I sit with my legs propped up on the ottoman and look out into a snow-covered and cloudy world. Below the window, the stiff remains of Russian Sage shiver. In the distance, tied to a sturdy branch of a leafless box elder tree, the old tire-swing moves gently back and forth, pushed by the wind. Has it really been decades since I heard the laughter of the kids through this open window in the summer, during those long, careless evenings?
I close my eyes and, as if visiting an abandoned house, memories flood from inside walls, and I hear those squeals.
“One more time!”
I open my eyes again. I stare into this cold season and, for a moment, the world outside seems as empty as my womb. Tears sting as I mourn the years past. I place my hand on my swollen abdomen, become keenly aware of what is no longer, of what has been cut away. Several small incisions are proof that the room inside of me, that sacred place where the Creator knitted together my children and forged His own image into their faces, is gone. Gratitude and grief mix as I recognize this privilege of motherhood.
I feel tired and lean my head back. The heating pad is keeping the cold draft from moving under my blanket. Then, she suddenly appears.
She lands atop the cage.
Soft, downy feathers cover the tiniest body. Her little twiggy feet grab the wire cage. Beady eyes in a tilted head stare at me. She sits for a good while. I wonder what she thinks of me. I suddenly feel her freedom. Is she watching me from behind the glass, noticing me from the outside while looking in? Strangely, I feel like I am the one trapped inside a cage. She is the free. She slides effortlessly through the metal bars, pecks at the provided seeds and flies off. Within seconds, another one replaces her. Then a nuthatch. A woodpecker. Juncos. All take turns, gently ushering in a rest I am not familiar with. It must be that rest is learned. I am better at doing than at resting.
Over the next days they come. As I sit and watch, as I am forced to rest, they teach me, ever so gently, ever so patiently. They come several times a day. They are cared for, fed, kept warm. They fly in an out. They have stayed behind while others have left to warmer climates. How priceless their lessons to me, this reminder to embrace the seasons the way they come, to wait patiently for warmer days ahead and to know how much I am cared for and loved.