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The Silence of the Birds

By Gloria Diaz

Check out Gloria's Blog — Edge of Gloria!

Fort Wayne Reader


I noticed in August that my backyard sounded different.

Technically, itís still summer. I donít care what the stores are pushing, itís early September, not late September, although everyone is already back in school, Rod Stewart. Weíve got summer heat, and Iíll keep saying itís summer until September 21 or so. But I noticed that when I woke up last month, the yard was still. I donít know what the birds were doing. Taking a morning nap? Out hunting for food? Whatever they were doing, they were quiet.

If I werenít so connected with the school year, I might say the sound was a late mid summer lull, when the season is at full-bore in terms of heat and corn and tomatoes ripening, and all that. But since school starts in mid-August, summer seems shorter and shorter and shorter.

I should be used to this by now. But Iím not.

I didnít get to do more of the things I wanted, and itís my own damn fault. It was 93 degrees today, but the pools are closed, so no swimming for me. Things are kind of tough for me right now, so the pleasures of summer were limited to my own backyard. My smartphone was my entertainment system this summer. A friend gave me a chainsaw, something Iíve wanted for decades, so I spent a few afternoons out in the yard, cutting up gigantic weeds and tons of branches. I had my phone with me, so while I was lopping everything down to a manageable size, I had a movie running. I think it was David Lynch or some other movie person who wondered why anyone would watch a movie on a smartphone, but I appreciate the technology that allows me to do that. It beat lugging the flat screen and DVD/VCR player out into the yard.

I also used my smartphone to take a picture of two bugs having sex on a grapevine leaf. I also took pictures of the birdís nest built directly over the door to my outside storage. A couple of nights, Iíd step out the back door to a flutter of wings that scared the crap out of me. I finally noticed the nest. I was excited, thinking Iíd see the tiny chicks grow up on my porch. They never made it. One night I walked out the door, and startled the mom. She had tipped the nest and an egg fell out. I tried to put it back, and ended up dropping it on the edge of my rain barrel. Then, when I made it home after a very late night, I saw the nest ripped from its perch. Either the mom had tipped the nest again, or a predator dislodged it. I felt bad enough after making the mom bolt from the nest, but the surviving egg didnít have a chance either.

Life is fragile. But I still feel bad about the momma bird and her eggs. What compelled her to build a nest so close to not one, but two doors, Iíll never know. There are plenty of trees in the backyard. Maybe my porch looked homey. Itís out of the wind and sun. Location, location, location.

I hope, though, that momma bird is okay. Maybe she can try again, and have chicks that make it out of the nest on their own accord, and not because some stupid homeowner decided to go outside and freak the mom out, causing her to knock an egg earthward merely by taking off.

But the absence of chirping reminds me of the birds that arenít there. And the chicks who never made it. And itís the sound of mid/late summer, damn it. Itís almost the end of summer. A little less than three weeks to go, but for me, itís not over until the calendar says it is.

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