Sunday, September 08, 2013

Meditation on Simple Pleasures

The Jersey house seems to be at the epicenter of a flock of goldfinches at the moment. Both feeders (visible from indoors) are hosting several of them, the autumn amnesty allowing them to eat together in big chirpy bunches. Earlier in the year mated pairs could share feeders, but would chase away any others of their tribe (house finches were also chased away). Now they crowd onto the feeders with relatively little objection. They occasionally form little dinner groups divided by gender. Yesterday I noticed there were five or six males gathered on the thistle sock in back, while the women folk shared the fruit and nut feeder in front. 

When I went out this morning with my coffee to inspect the grounds, I found several goldies feasting on something (I assume seed pods) in the cosmos/nasturtium/zinnia patch. I wouldn't have guessed the cosmos would support them, let alone provide sustenance, though I now may have an explanation for why some of the dried ones have snapped off at about the two foot mark. When I returned to the front door, I startled a flock of birds on the gone-to-seed sunflowers. Three walls out of four now have something to feed birds. I just wish this place had more windows, so I could watch without disturbing them. 

Looking out the kitchen window this morning, I was treated to the sight of a male goldfinch eating next to a male cardinal. I found myself wondering if there would come a time when those bright colors, separately and in combination, would cease to thrill me. This first year of regular visits to the house hasn't dimmed the pleasure yet, but surely after a while I'll get bored by it right? That thought made me a little sad; it seems ungrateful somehow, but the human ability to take common pleasures for granted eventually is well documented. Fortunately I had the good sense for once not to dwell on it. I love the sight now, why not enjoy it until I don't anymore, right? Why go to the trouble to imagine a day when the glass will be half empty, on a day when it is decidedly half full? 

Almost as if I were being rewarded for this 'be in the moment' thought, a chickadee showed up. And I got excited. I love chickadees, and unlike goldfinches, I've been watching and delighting in them since I was a kid. (My first memory of seeing a goldfinch was when I was in my thirties, so they still have a certain degree of novelty.) Chickadees are pretty common year 'round birds, so they lack the seasonal surprise that might explain why I have yet to lose my joy in fireflies, violets, autumn leaves, snowfall and thunderstorms (to name a few). Chickadees look like they were painted with Sumi ink, so it's not like there are bright, startling colors to delight my eye. But I love their plumage, and the jaunty air they seem to have. Even their chirping ("chicka dee dee dee") amuses me. 

I'm experienced enough with depression to know that one can lose appreciation for anything. But today, right now, it's comforting to be reminded that joy, even in simple things, doesn't always fade. 

1 comment:

Java said...

Ahhhh. This is a comforting post. Your fascination with the birds warms the cockles of my heart.