The bird in the rain

My house backs up to a pond. We keep a bird feeder near the edge of the water, and get a variety of birds throughout the year. I think my favorite are the cedar waxwings that pass through on the edges of winter, skirting that harsh season on their way to better places. And of course I love cardinals and goldfinches and the usual suspects that live around here. They show up, day in and day out, because we feed them.

It’s been raining all day. Most of yesterday, too, though there was a breath of dawn light first thing this morning, turning the fog into pewter. It’s that steady kind of rain that soaks through your coat, even if you’re only walking from your car to the door. It’s a miserable day.

The birds are feeding. My mom always told me that you could tell it was going to rain all day if the birds were still feeding. I think there’s more to it than that, but it’s worth remembering. It’s easy to let the rain decide when you eat, but the meal is always there. The things that feed us, our families, our friends, our beliefs and our work, they’re always there. Even in the rain.

This has been a strange and quiet holiday for us. We both have colds, so we spent the weekend resting and drinking non-celebratory fluids. And a friend of ours died on Thanksgiving. We had lost touch with him in that last few years, but apparently he was diagnosed with a brain tumor in early November, underwent surgery, and never woke up. He passed silently away with his family by his side. He was an incredibly kind man, and very talented, and someone I really wish I’d known better. He was 39 years old.

The birds show up, day in and day out, because we feed them. Even in the rain.

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