Wild About Waxwings

20 May

In the 20-plus years we’ve lived at this house, my husband and I have hosted thousands of birds in our backyard aviary All-You-Can-Eat-Buffet-and-Oasis. We enjoy marking off  the species listed in the Birds of Northern Virginia manual that stop by for a snack and quick chat. Some even repay our seedy hospitality by chirping out a tune or two.

Quite often (and just a few days ago, as a matter of fact), I flip through the manual’s pages, amazed at the many birds we’ve seen. Then I come to the page of that beautiful cedar waxwing and say to my husband, “Just once I’d like to see one of these beauties. Why don’t they ever come here?”

I say all this to bring us to Friday morning, which started as a particularly grumpy day for me. After a sleepless night, I left my bed grudgingly and stomped downstairs, as if the universe owed me something now and I was going to grumble until I got it. Alas, bad moods are less effective when one is alone, but I didn’t let that didn’t hamper my pity party.

There was a text message on my phone from a creditor, thanking me for making my  latest payment.  Bah. As if I had any choice. I stewed for a moment. Rather than be thankful that we made sufficient money this month to pay all bills, I chose to grumble that we had nothing left over.

With a heavy sigh, I made some coffee and settled down with my daily devotional, pretty much daring God to mess with my surliness. So, He did.

I read about God’s unlimited resources—His vast abundance, and His desire to lavish abundance on me.

Naturally, I mumbled under my breath, “Well then, O Mighty Abundant One, how about you lavish me with a little more cash, then? ‘Cause that’s what I’d like to see in abundance.”

God and I have this running gag about my sarcasm. I can’t not serve it up, and He can’t not turn it around. I should know by now.

Since no bag of bills fell in my lap, and still feeling quite sorry for my sleepy self, I trudged upstairs to dress for the day.

For some reason, I felt drawn to open the blinds that covered the bathroom window, which is not something I typically do in the mornings. Outside there seemed to be a to-do in the mulberry tree, so I opened the window . . . to the most unusual concert—a twittering frenzy like nothing I’d never heard before. Without my glasses, however, all I could see was that the mulberry tree appeared to be moving.

Race downstairs for my glasses. Race back upstairs where I can shut the door on the cat so he won’t jump out the bathroom window.

strip1bThe tree was alive with birds! On nearly every branch, twittering and leaping away as they tugged at ripened mulberries.

Race downstairs for my binoculars. Race back up, past a now-disgruntled cat who just knows something is going on.

Cedar waxwings! Not one, but at least 50 or 60, putting away mulberries like they’re going out of style, which, technically they were, because that poor tree was sacrificing all it had. The berries were larger than their beaks, yet they’d tip back their heads and swallow them down in one gulp.

Race downstairs past grumpy kitty to grab the camera and long-range lens. Race back up, fighting to close the door against his protests.

Now I can really get a good look.

They were lovely—smooth gray and cranberry pink feathers with yellow and red tips, pudgy yellow bellies, and that adorable little mask. What’s more, unlike those mean ol’ blue jays that insist on hanging around, they were nice to each other, not pushing to get berries for themselves, but passing them to those without, and they sang the entire time, this sweet, twittering song, as if the work were some sort of treat.

On more than one occasion, I caught two of these precious sweeties passing a berry back and forth, as if to say,

“Please, I insist, you have this” and,

“Oh, I couldn’t,—after you,” then,

“Oh, I wouldn’t dream of it. Take it for yourself.”

They’d pass it six or ten times before one would give a, “don’t mind if I do” shrug and tip back his head.

strip3My cup runneth over. It was all I hoped for and more—so much more. I spent the next 30 minutes hanging out the bathroom window snapping photos like a mom at a first-grade recital. I caught myself laughing a few times, and thanking God for this demonstration of—oh, dear—real abundance.

That’s when I got it. A verse from the morning’s reading ran through my head, the second half of John 10:10: “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”

It’s not about the money. Sure, I’d love to have something extra at the end of the month, and go out to dinner more often. But this experience, 30 minutes of reveling amid the beauty and the chatter, 30 minutes of pure gratitude and joy, 30 minutes that made me late for work and care not a lick. This was life. Abundant life.

On both Saturday and Sunday mornings, as berries continued to ripen, the waxwings returned. I spent time each day on my deck watching them through binoculars and chatting with God about His creativity. (Those red tips on their wings are actually a wax-like secretion from the berries, so I read.) I find it fascinating that, rather than just give us “a bird,” God chose to make so many variations.

I’m rather certain God never meant for me to have a lot of money. But I’m equally certain He wants me to live in abundance. He wants me to look for Him as the source of my joy. That’s not always easy, but it’s quite rewarding whenever I get it right.

This Monday morning, we’re down to 10 or so waxwings left, as the tree’s resources have nearly been exhausted, but I do believe I enjoyed that gift to the fullest.

It occurs to me, these same birds likely stop by every spring, but until this year I’ve never noticed. How many other wonders are occurring right under my nose that I just never notice? What about you? Is God trying to show you something? Let’s keep our eyes open today and be on the look-out, just in case.

——————————————-

You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. –Psalm 16:11

16 Responses to “Wild About Waxwings”

  1. edspeare May 20, 2019 at 10:19 am #

    Good one!
    Blessings,
    Ed

  2. Elaine Beachy May 20, 2019 at 10:27 am #

    Rosemarie, I really enjoyed your post! Thanks for sharing your experience, and the photos as well!

    • Portrait Writer May 20, 2019 at 8:26 pm #

      Thanks. I had about 90 to choose from. Thought I’d go easy on y’all. 🙂

  3. LA May 20, 2019 at 1:45 pm #

    😀

  4. Kae Bellamy May 20, 2019 at 4:26 pm #

    How beautiful! What a wonderful blessing! Thank you for sharing!

  5. quinn colleen May 20, 2019 at 8:35 pm #

    I throughly enjoyed this story-thanks for writing it.
    Blessings,
    Colleen

    • Portrait Writer May 20, 2019 at 8:47 pm #

      You’re welcome Colleen! And thanks for READING it! 😉

  6. Cheryl May 22, 2019 at 10:12 am #

    Rosemarie, I shared your joy and also felt a smidge of jealousy ( forgive me) because I have not yet seen a cedar waxwing! But truly, I know what a gift it was and and am praising God for bringing them to you. Don’t be too sure it wasn’t the first time they came, perhaps God did send them that particular time. Anyway, I share your joy and once again appreciate your words of humor and wisdom!

    • Portrait Writer May 22, 2019 at 8:38 pm #

      Cheryl, I’ll call you next year. You, Dawn, and I can drink coffee and bird watch. Yes, they’ll be back.

  7. hmreichert May 24, 2019 at 8:07 am #

    Oh how I love your writing! I love your honesty about being surly and about wanting more…because I can relate (time is my greatest want right now). And I needed the reminder of God’s abundance all around me. There is an infinite amount of time, money, beauty, talent…I just need to stop and notice. Thank you for making me smile this morning.

    • Portrait Writer May 24, 2019 at 9:02 am #

      I’m with you on the time. Sometimes I wonder if that’s why I don’t sleep at night–some sort of inner fear of waste. Hmmm….that could blog… :/

  8. writingtruelove June 4, 2019 at 4:12 pm #

    What a wonderful lesson in God’s provision. Thank you.

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