It has been raining almost every day for a month now. We are the land of mud, of rubber boots and raincoats. The ducks don’t mind. They would be happy if the garden turned into one big puddle.
It’s the season for Evening Grosbeaks. All day they gather at the tops of the alder trees, their chirps sound like a chorus of little bells clinging. The drop from branch to branch, cascading through the bare branches until they crowd each other at the bird feeder, making us buy bag sunflower seeds in fifty pound bags. Next year I may as well have a ton delivered at the end of fall. The Evening Grosbeaks look and sound like small parrots, little green and white and yellow jewels in the middle of a very gray season.
You almost never see them on the ground. I wonder what it would be like to live your entire life without touching the ground, to know only the air brushing your toes as you dart from branch to branch. What do the birds call us with our feet in the mud? Mudders? Stuck-in-the-mud creatures? Mud Beings? Do they wonder where our wings are? Why we never fly?
For birds that never touch the ground, what is the earth? A fearsome surface like a cold sea is to us? Does an adventurous hummingbird chick ever cry to its parents, “I did it! I touched the ground and lived!”