cows and birds, by Harry Holdorf

cows and birds, by Harry Holdorf

I think it was Wendell Berry who said birds and we had much in common, because we both eat bugs. Not that WE actually eat bugs, but bugs are our enemies. Cows we do eat, though. Outside my desk window, it’s basically cows and birds.

Cows are quite nimble creatures, though at first glance they’re large, fat, black, and sluggish. They’re cute when they stand there staring at you with their legs crossed, like ballerinas about to take the stage. Cows, a.k.a. meat wagons, from their baby calf days on, spend much time running across meadows, fully developing their quite sturdy legs.

When we first opened the kitchen door to this old farmhouse, a large red bird was throwing himself against the dining room window every five seconds, for hours. Annoyingly charming. And of the birds, cardinals are definitely the ones most in your face. It’s surprising, because they’re the ones wearing the black masks! They sit in the evergreens in front of the house, imitating whatever sounds we make. While at the sawbuck, I was startled to hear the bird loudly imitate the sound of my bow saw.

We feed birds on the concrete wellhead, and on the ledge right outside my window. The doves come to the wellhead first in the day, then blue jays, woodpeckers, and smaller birds. Grackles come in swarms, and robins come in dozens. The first birds to dare come to the window after the cardinals are the tufted titmice, dapper little dressers, flying in and landing sideways, extremely skittish, but constantly returning, ever on the lookout for human hazards, while snagging seed. The next bunch to come are small birds with brown Davy Crockett caps: flat-footed, afraid a nothing, going about their business, taking their seeds and leaving.

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