… on daily traditions

Each morning, JoHn gives The Report.

The Report goes something like this:

“There are two doves on the bird bath and they have no water. Also, the cardinal has been hanging out for a while and looks hungry.”

Uh huh.

This is all reported, usually before my first Cup of Life, which is also known as coffee.

What he means is that the heated bird bath – which serves as the Island’s wintertime water hole (well, at least Landing Road’s wintertime waterhole (but it seems like a lot of birds for one road, I’m just sayin’)… anyway, the bird bath’s water will often evaporate during a very cold night and we have to refill it in the morning. Because, apparently, the doves have gotten all entitled.

Also? The ‘we’ I was referring to above, when I said “… we have to refill it in the morning.” actually means I will be doing the refilling (using the white, gurgling cod at the sink in the back room because, well, gurgling cod*). Also, the reason we have a heated bird bath is because winters in Maine can be a bit chilly (as in water-becomes-a-solid chilly). So, JoHn observes and reports… then I get cold.

But the critters need the water (preferably in liquid form) and also their breakfasts. I think this is mostly because they have failed to evolve themselves camel humps.

Which is science.

I’ll explain.

I have yet to see any birds or squirrels or other non-hibernating Maine critters with camel humps on their backs.

None of them appear to have oval red blood cells either, though that is harder to discern with just my human eyes, so I have used binoculars.

Still no evidence of the oval blood cells.

I’m just saying that I think Maine winters and the Sahara Desert have a lot in common, in that those beings without grocery store shopping skills (and also money, and maybe thumbs) often have to go quite some time without food and/or water when winter hits. And if they had camel humps, they could store up to three weeks of food energy in the form of fat, which they could keep in their humps.

Also, camels have proven that their oval blood cells are quite handy for when they are dehydrated (those oval suckers can move all over the place, even in wicked thick blood). And those cells can expand to something like 240 percent of their original volume, so camels can drink a whole bunch of water to make up for any deficits from being dehydrated.

I, myself, think that camel-hump-equipped Maine birds and squirrels – and deer for that matter – with oval red blood cells would make Darwin proud.

Sadly, he was more partial to Galapagos-ian tortoises when it came to all the adaptation stuff.

Probably because it’s a lot warmer down there.

Plus better revenue potential for eco-tourism.

Because funding.

It would be a lot easier – for me – if we did have camel-hump-equipped Maine critters, because I would not feel nearly as guilty for getting up a little late and hearing that the doves are pissy and acting all hungry and dehydrated.

When JoHn tells me the bird bath is empty, I always sigh as if it is a big, fat, hairy deal as I head to the back room.

With the pitcher filling in the sink, I shuffle over to the two galvanized barrels containing the birdseed – one has the bite-sized food for the little birds and the other is filled with what I call the ‘chunky style food’… half peanuts, bits of dried fruit, sunflower and safflower seeds.

By the time I fill up my scoop with an approximately 50/50 mix, the cod is full, and I head back to the sink to turn off the faucet.

Then to the outside I go.

It only takes a few minutes to do these morning chores.

On the coldest mornings, the water for the bird bath seems to move from liquid to steam almost immediately, even before it’s all settled in the bowl. The birds, knowing what’s coming, fly into the huge, naked and unruly rose bushes that sit in front of the farmer’s/farmers porch as I move from one end to the other, filling their dishes with breakfast.

If I’m lucky, the very brave little chickadee shows up. He alone will land on my hand to make his initial selections.

I ought to point out that I am outside, often in frigid weather, in my pajamas and slippers. I mean, once JoHn proclaims the birds are in need, I don’t have time to bundle up.

At this point, you might be wondering – or even feeling kind of prickly – about the fact that JoHn gives The Report, expecting will hop to it and get my still-sleepy self out into the elements, when he could just as easily – and chivalrously – head out into the winter’s bite and take care of it all himself.

But he’d never do that.

Because, if he did, I’d miss…

The gurgling of the water from my silly little cod pitcher… and the rising of the steam as the cold water takes off into the even colder air.

And the sparrows and juncos (and Granny’s beloved cardinal) as they flit about Thing One and Thing Two – my forever out of control rose bushes – impatiently waiting for their breakfast.

Then there’s the chance that the doves will stay and watch, rather than sound the alarm and beat their way away while I fill the seed dishes… they have oh so slowly begun to trust (just a little bit).

And what of the chickadee-dee-dee who, when I repeat his song just right and fill my palm with seed, might – just might – thrill me with a personal visit. His tiny feet and claws tickling my thumb or index finger, I’ll feel no weight at all.


It’s in JoHn’s best interest to announce and pronounce, then offer a nice hot cup of coffee to my chilly hands…

When I come back inside…


Thanks for readin’.

* The gurgling cod pitcher is a very Boston thing (sold for many decades by Shreve. Crump and Low (considered the country’s oldest jeweler)). It’s based on the British ‘glug jug’, but given the anatomy and details of our beloved (and symbolic) New England cod. The gurgling cod makes the absolute best gurgley-gluggy sound when you pour water from it, and then tip it back upright. Once you have one, you want to give one to someone else as a present. People give and get them for everything from graduation to weddings. My own nieces and nephews used to line up at my kitchen sink to fill and pour from mine. I might have more than one… or five… okay maybe more than six.

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