Monday, July 18, 2011

simple pleasures

unobstructed view of grackles bathing

Sometimes it's the simplest things punctuating my days that give me the most enjoyment.  When I walk by the windows at the back of my house, I have a view through the open blinds of the birdbath just outside our back door.  I often catch a glimpse of splashing, and I'm compelled to pause, sometimes for several minutes, delighting in the activity.  Certain birds seem more likely to splash than others.  The mockingbirds, blue jays, grackles and finches are the most raucous.  They'll wade right in to dunk themselves, flapping their wings over and over.  I especially enjoy seeing the blue birds.  The cobalt of their feathers becomes more intense when ruffled and wet.  On the other end of the spectrum, the mourning doves seem reticent to dishevel themselves.  I've come across them sitting sedately in the middle of the bath, calmly soaking in the shallow water.  Or they gather at the edges, daintily sipping water like gently bobbing metronomes.

Most of the time I encounter bathers it is a single type of bird.  Others may be hovering, but it's pretty rare to see two different kinds bathing together.  That's why I was so astonished yesterday to encounter a tiny Carolina wren alongside a brown thrasher, both flapping happily.  Every once in a while I'll be walking by the windows and observe what I think is a bird I've never seen before.  But if I watch until the bath is complete, the large, fluffed up bird the size of small hawk settles down to preen on the edge of the bowl and I realize it's a robin after all.

view through the blind slats of a crow dunking his bread

Even the large crows that live nearby come to quench their thirst.  The only dunking I've seen them do is with a morsel of dried bread they've scavenged somewhere.  As for other species, I've encountered plenty of squirrels taking a drink and once I even saw a cat.  I was a little worried the cat would hang around looking for a meal, but so far I've seen no evidence of that.

The pleasure I get from these small creatures is long lasting.  Smiles carry over into my studio.  I'm thinking one of these days the spirit of a happy bird will most likely show up in painting or two.

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