Wednesday, December 31, 2008
This is a different angle of an old house I photographed down New Point and posted a while ago. The whole "out with the old, in with the new" saying associated with New Year's Eve reminded me of this old house because the barn next to it recently fell over...out with the old. Speaking of old houses and holidays, below is something Chesapeake Bay Mother wrote that involves both.
A Perfect Storm
By Chesapeake Bay Mother
Once when I was in high school, we had a big snowstorm during Christmas holiday vacation. It increased our time home by a couple of weeks. Mother and I lived alone in the old house* which didn’t have storm windows, though comfortable enough, and having no school was better than anything under the tree. This was a particularly bleak time in our life, my parents having separated and our net worth having nothing but net.
On this day, the snow was newly fallen and more was promised. I sat on our sofa before a window close to a young magnolia tree and watched television. Gradually I noticed a regular tapping behind me. Thinking a tree branch motivated by the north wind was making the noise, I kept my gaze on the television screen. Again the tapping came, more insistent and forceful, and I turned to see a red blur on the icy pane. Wiping the condensation away revealed the up-close visage of one of our state birds, the cardinal, peering inquisitively back at me. He stunned me with his boldness as well as his bright plumage. Having cracked corn on hand, I fetched a handful, opened the window several inches and spread it on the sill from which I had brushed the snow. Retreating a few feet, I watched him fly from the magnolia to the window sill and begin to eat. He didn’t seem to mind that I was near. When satisfied, he flew off and I closed the window—touched that I had been allowed to come so close to a wild creature.
The next day, he returned; this time with his mate. They took turns flying to the window and pecking. Their handful of grain provided, I would watch them eat at close range for several days and feel very connected to the two.
After the snow was gone, they no longer required special help and moved on where their lives took them; and I did as well. But in that snowstorm, at that window, there was communication and understanding and cooperation…and I believe it was beyond coincidence that they selected my window**. You could say their needs and my needs collided in mutual compassion.
* This house was the old Gloucester Day School, now Ware Academy, in Gloucester.
** This was the beginning of a lifelong relationship with wild animals. She even had a pet fox once in that very same house. I believe they led the thing around on a leash, I don't know, I might be confusing stories, but I can assure you she had a pet fox. It may have been a chicken they had on a leash, while somebody picked a banjo in the background, but there was a pet fox, and some animal that was not a dog on a leash.
Yes, her love of animals continues to this day, and we now have a flock of non-migratory geese who visit her house for 3 square meals a day and ducks who are treated to overnight stays in a zipped-up tent to protect them from predators. (These are the very predators who can kill a duck, but evidently not pierce a tent.)
Welcome to the Chesapeake Bay Family Wild Kingdom, sponsored by Mutual of Omaha.
(p.s. Chesapeake Bay Mother - I love you, your love for animals, and your writing.)