Getting out to the barn to ride Angel or care for Albert brings lots of rewards: the companionship of good horses, the constant light breeze on my face, the distant sound of baying of hounds, and the good birds.
How is that watching a mockingbird find a narrow strip of shade between the slats of the mare’s fence makes me feel cooler, too? Or how the sudden appearance of a certain woodpecker lulls my worries into a sweet hush?
Oh, the good birds. Here are my favorite birds of the barn this time of year, but thank goodness for them all.
Little daredevil acrobats! Somersaulting in the air. Diving, swooping barn swallows.
I think of the Killdeer as a beach bird in the gelding field! Busybody bird always running here and there, checking on this and that, and making a fuss.
While I have only ever seen this bird at my grandparents’ place in Mississippi and on my family’s cattle farm in Cumberland, I hear the Bobwhite almost every day that I visit Albert at dusk. I could listen to bob-bob-white forever. This one truly carries me back to my childhood. My granddaddy whistled the Bobwhite call in the truck, by the pond, in the garden. It’s a bird he took with him everywhere and so no matter where I am when I hear it, I’m reminded that Granddaddy is with me.
You know the rush of breath and wonder you feel when you dive under a white cap? No matter how accustomed I think I am to the great and ancient ocean, the awe of it never wanes. That’s how I feel when I see a red-headed woodpecker.
The Bobwhite is like a ribbon tying me to my granddaddy, the mocker – the state bird of Mississippi – leads me home to Grammy. She and I loved to watch mockingbirds together.
I guess, I never just watch a bird. Each one holds some treasure – a memory, a feeling, a poem, a story.