Miracle in the Birdbath

It’s the dead of winter still.  Or maybe it’s spring…. About twenty-eight degrees today and will be warmer later. And tomorrow it will be fifty. It’s easy to be confused now about the seasons.   Winter and spring are all mixed up. Daffodils and snow.   Lilacs turning green in January.   Rain and thunderstorms instead of snow drifts.  A cause for celebration to some and lamenting to others.   The confusion is the worst.  The unsettling feeling the lost feeling the dazing of all things that once were clearly understood.

I’m still in my robe.  What’s new.   It used to be “I’m in the garden… what’s new?”  And I realize that for the last couple of years I am not in the garden as once before…… I don’t spend hours sitting there and reading, writing, dreaming……. the garden is weird these days… things growing that should not be there .. or too soon or too late.  There are still piles of leaves outside like in November..  and too many noises…. dogs that never stop barking…. baseballs and basketballs thundering and flying hitting the ground in big thud thud thuds……. sometimes you just want things quiet very very quiet…

If I didn’t know better I would swear it is late March.    That time when dozens of birds fly in and out of the garden like they’re on drugs.  They fly back and forth in a frenzy almost like my brain now back and forth and back and forth  …. maybe they are just hysterical with joy.

If I was in a very lonely place, a dark and lonely place,  a deserted place, or even a bright and sunny place early in the morning… and if I had a choice of what or who to see, a person or a bird…   I would choose a  bird.

My mother once told me that in her village in Ukraine if you were out wandering and got lost, or were coming home from work or school, miles away from home, from any town or house, and you were walking on that lonely road, and if you saw a person you would jump for joy.   You would have someone to talk to, to walk with, or to help you if you needed aid.  Here in this town in this city in this village in this country if you see someone late at night in a deserted place, or even early in the day… you run hide escape.  Get your gun!

The definition of insanity they say is doing the same things over and over again and expecting a different result.

I watch birds now.  Over and over and over again.   There are two bird baths outside.  One is an inverted large turquoise pot with a ceramic saucer upside down and another saucer right side up.   The other bird bath is an old concrete broken down stand and bowl but still with traces of the leaves and flowers and old designs on it.   The one my sister and I bought when my mother was still alive. When joy was still alive and well.    It was so heavy so big and beautiful and ancient looking.  It took all our strength to walk it over to the end of the garden under the Serviceberry tree and place it there… It is crumbling now and I placed a large plastic faded green saucer on top of the crumbling stand….. even though it’s warmer than usual this winter, at night it still gets cold and in the morning the water in the baths is frozen and the birds have no water…. I have been going out and pouring water on top and it slides off the ice and stays in little rivulets so there is a little water at least for the birds.

I saw the black-capped chickadees out today or maybe it’s Juncos…— I think it’s them… soft grey with black and white markings near the eyes.. very quick birds flitting around the garden like it’s spring…just the sight gave me a spark of joy quick and light as a molecule…… secret and dark like an amoeba like the little ghostly sighs and whispers flitting in and out of your spirit soul psyche whatever you want to call the miasma of your soul brain heart searchings…

This is it now.   Friends sending me articles and quotes and anecdotes about activism brain pickings for the soul, things to do and read, to fight the evil injustice venom insanity of these times…. things to write and say to senators and representatives and presidents of nothing…..

I just delete delete delete it all. I look out the window to the garden instead….

I took out my big red pot that I make my Christmas Eve borscht in.  I filled it with fresh cold water and  walked out onto the frozen grass of the garden…. scaring the chickadees for a few seconds and I filled both crumbling bird baths with water and then walked back inside and turned around for a moment to face the garden.  A big fat orange robin appeared suddenly… such is the miracle of water and a simple bird bath …… it was splashing around as though it was a warm summer day….. in the bird bath that still had a thick layer of ice in it…. it was splashing with joy with delirium splashing and bathing and cleaning itself getting ready for some great party some great reckoning or maybe just telling me that spring is really coming…

And in a matter of seconds the robin and the chickadees were gone, completely gone as though bird and garden never existed.  It was a moment in time, a moment that happens over and over and over again.. And with birds, the moments last, the joy lasts forever in the little scarred brain in my frazzled head.

I just turned around again as I was finishing this… turned my head to look again out into that garden…. like I have done for seventeen years….. three little birds in the bird bath now, some kind of wrens and Juncos splashing about… another on the ground pecking at something dead and frozen… something singing deep in the ground, calling…. my joy is crazy and delirious and complete now…. birds and water are all I need….





















About O

I live in a suburb of an American City. I write to try and understand myself and the world around me. I love nature, art, music, literature and beauty in all its forms. I love food. But then food is a whole other world.... I think the world has gone mad and many of us will soon go insane from living in this world. What I love almost more than anything is my garden. I love its trees its shrubs and its many flowers. I love the birds, their flying and singing and dancing movements in and out of the sky and garden. Their freedom. I could watch birds all day long. They always bring joy. I love to work in my garden. To get muddy and dirty, digging, weeding, mowing, pruning and deadheading. Then, I like to have a cool glass of white wine or red, or sometimes a Manhattan, and drink in hand, I walk around and look at the fruits of my labor. And that walk each and every day in my little paradise.. because that is what gardens are.... brings me almost complete joy... My blog is whennothingworks because for a long time nothing has worked. Friends, family, jobs, money, houses, careers, lovers, things--- it all just doesn't work sometimes, or most of the time. The garden always works. Nature and its beauty always work. And, in my garden, I can sit quietly and think, or just breathe, and somehow manage to survive the world.
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6 Responses to Miracle in the Birdbath

  1. Danilo says:

    Love your latest piece, Olga! I’m also feeling exhausted from the constant barrage of emailson activism. Still doing what I can to the best ofmy abilities.


    • O says:

      Don’t remember if I thanked you for reading! And for your encouragement… thank you so much to busy people like you who take the time to support others! And for your always kind comments.


  2. ladycee says:

    Hello O,
    You never cease to amaze me with how you can take such an ordinary subject such as a birdbath and elevate it with your language, your heartfelt passion for nature and your perspective, interweaving your text with past memories or the day’s happenings. Always, a joy to read (I particularly liked the para where you speak about the black-capped chickadees).
    I dropped by to ask how you are and find out how your sister is recuperating.


  3. Natalie says:

    Truly beautiful images….


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