Half and half

The sun shone brightly through my window as I awoke the other morning.

It had broken through the pink cloud cover while still low in the eastern sky. At the low winter angle, it shone through my window with its beam ricocheting from the mirror on the wall across the room to the door of my walk-in closet, where, ill clad, I was trying to select a shirt to wear. Nevertheless, short-lived as its intrusion was, I was happy to see it.

From my window, the snow sparkled with ice crystal diamonds clear across both yard and fields. That beautiful sight alone told me that the temperature was cold, but the lack of blowing snow made the day look really promising.

As I battled with a pair of reluctant socks that refused to align properly on each foot, a quick glance at the calendar told me the month was well beyond the halfway mark and so digitally was beyond by half the cold spell of weather that usually accompanies winter.

As I headed to my computer, the reflection of my Little Lady’s stained glass butterfly dream catcher, which dangles in memory on a nylon string at the window, faded from the wall. There were only a half dozen e-mails to acknowledge, so I was up and out well before the hands on the kitchen clock joined in signaling the time as nearing a quarter to nine. The sun shining through the kitchen window felt warm on the back of my hand, so I skipped making breakfast and headed out to check on my birds.

The moment I stepped off the front porch steps I could hear the snow underfoot give cranky crunchy complaints under each footstep. Though my son had cleared the snow well the day before with the John Deere tractor and blower, there was a fresh new skiff hiding the ice patches. So I used my trusty cane to poke and prod whatever, wherever, whenever I felt the necessity.

This is a pleasant part of the day for me, as I am first greeted by the crowing of the ring-necked pheasant cock bird, which he does the moment he sees me. The whirr of the silver pheasant cock bird’s wings greets me as I get a little closer. He stands on tiptoe and rapidly fans the air with his wings, his way of telling me “good morning,” or perhaps “this is my territory go away and leave me alone,” but I think it an adaptation of the former, for he willingly struts unafraid back and forth at my feet.

By this time, I can hear the little blind black-breasted English game bantam, housed inside in the warmth, start to crow. He keeps this up, time and again, until I enter the building and fill his feed dish. I have been doing this daily now for greater than five years. He was apparently blind when he hatched, and I found him lying prostrate and cold, appearing dead, far away from his mother and seven siblings. I popped him into my shirt pocket, with the hopes of giving him a proper burial later, but before this happened; perhaps from the warmth of my pocket, I felt a tiny quiver of life.

Warmed up under a hair drier, he stood up and began cheep, cheep, cheeping for food, more warmth or company – perhaps all three. It was then that I took a closer look.

Though his eyes showed no sign of blindness, I found I had to direct him to both the food and water dish for several days; after that, he was completely on his own. He now crows to welcome me each morning as soon as he knows, by the calls of the others, that I’m on my way.

Having come in from the cold I stand for a moment talking to him, while wiping clean my steamed-up classes.

I find him a solid solemn reminder to me that “There, but for the grace of God, go I.”

Take care, ‘cause we care.




Barrie Hopkins