I’m going to name my house. Well, maybe not my house, but my back yard.
The backyard that has held multiple tables for a medieval Yule, when a “king” from a different land visited and played the bagpipes, where each dish of the feast was heralded by a young squire. “My lords and ladies, the first of tonight’s five courses is wine soaked beast.” A line of silk and velvet-clad men holding platters high would wind their way through the yard to serve the succulent stew. The wonderful smells pouring from my small kitchen through the French doors into the candle-lit yard caused us to forget it was a cold December night.
If I squint, I can still see the rows and rows of white chairs lined in rank and file to honor to a young fallen one. I never thought I’d have a funeral in my back yard. High school students were delivered by school busses. The parents were overwhelmed that we would offer our yard. “He loved the outdoors,” they said. “And no one would let us have it in a park.” They had been guests at the Yule feast. I did not know them personally.
Sometimes when I sit in the gazebo I remember the wedding. The groom in his full dress kilt, sitting across from his beloved bride at the round table, set for royalty …the only one in the gazebo. She was dressed in a period-perfect silky medieval gown fashioned by my daughter. The doves came then. The newlyweds danced to music provided by guitar, bodhran, and various other acoustic instruments. The food and wine was in abundance. The laughter and dance didn’t ebb until late in the evening.
My escape is by our pond, where the lilac from my mother’s mountain garden grows, and a porcelain statue of a Persian cat from my mother-in-law’s home sits beneath the mulberry tree. Both moms have been gone from this earth now for about fifteen years.
It was difficult to decide, and no one may agree with me, but I dub my backyard and garden, Birdsong. I have loved birds since I was a small child. I learned from my mother how special they are. Twice in maybe five years, she walked into her yard, and spotted parakeets high in the tree. She held up her finger like a perch and said “here pretty boy.” And both times the jewel-winged creatures flew to her. They were her companions for many years.
This morning, I sipped my tea while watching the mourning doves stand around the edge of the pond, dipping their beaks and sipping the water. The wee sparrows gather under the tree, some perched on the porcelain cat, to await their turn. They not only drink, they bathe. They are fearless enough to land on the rock in the center to frolic and splash in the cool spray from the fountain, and seemingly chat about what the day may hold.
The great blue heron came for breakfast only on the weekends; interesting. That’s when I like to go out to breakfast. The abundance of gold fish unknowingly beckoned him. The heron obliged willingly. He disappeared after we draped the bird netting over the pond. But the mockingbirds still gather at first light and imitate every other bird chirping at the daybreak. Blackbirds as large as roosters walk confidently down the street searching for morsels of whatever the trash men have left in their hurriedness.
Today a quail with her entourage of three, wandered across the dessert portion of our neighbor’s yard. I watched as the tiny parade disappeared into a shallow culvert overgrown with sage. I love how they lean forward as if it will help them arrive to their safety faster.
My potager is near the honeysuckle. I decided to snip some fresh basil and thyme this morning to be used in an herbed salad. I saw something move, out of the corner of my eye. As I looked to see what the motion was, the green metallic wings of a teal-breasted humming bird, imbibing nectar from the flame-colored trumpet created a mini-explosion of color. How fortunate I was to get so close. She didn’t seem to be disturbed by me and my scissors. It’s almost as if we had an understanding. She was there flitting from blossom to blossom, as I was moving from to herb to herb. When I finished, she moved on. Now and then, a roadrunner will race across the top of the tall cinder block wall that surrounds Birdsong.
Maybe I will name the entire homestead. I just noticed a dove has nested in the window box in the front. She is sitting on an egg, and watches me carefully as I pass by to my car.
Finches have recently chosen to land near the static waterfall of rosemary, now speckled with tiny blue blossoms..I smile as they peck at the white abstract of lime - residue from water that seeps through the old wall. I watch the morning pass, bird by bird.
Birdsong, the song of birds. They always sing immediately after a storm, even before the rainbows appear. Perhaps there's a promise there that we don't even understand. Birdsong…a bit of an oasis, in a very hot desert...yes... I think I like it.