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self portrait - circa 1996


Through Her Watching Window

It has "ear-flaps""Come here," she said as she patted the cushion of her couch. "Have a seat here."  When I did I saw why she wanted me to sit just there - this was her seat, her place that allowed her the best view of her watching window, the window to her birds.

Birds were darting to and from a nearby crab tree that was next to her two hanging feeders and their colorful plumage was brightening up the gray winter landscape. Small songbirds love crab trees because the branch structure is dense and offers protection from hawks. Through the window glass I could hear bird's song. Our lengthening days have the birds singing again. A lone robin was in the crab tree eyeing the bird feeder. It had just finished eating a piece of withered fruit off the crab tree. The birds visiting her feeder were her regulars, the year round residents that eat seeds and the ones that bring her so much pleasure especially when one lives alone - the impish chickadees, bright red cardinals, gregarious blue jays, nuthatches, titmice and the finches.

I had planned to drop something off and scoot on to other errands however after seeing her beaming smile and hearing her request, "You have a moment to stay, don't you?" quickly told me my time was going to be better spent right here.  The book, A Christmas Cup of Tea, came to mind.  If you have not read it yet, please get a copy and do so (or see the You Tube clip from the link above).

She told me she was born in 1930, that her father died of a burst appendix when she was only five years old. That she and her Mom now alone in the world would move from Pennsylvania to Detroit to be closer to family and that her mom got a job at the Packard plant. That she herself had had four children and that one of them was ill. She's so worried about him. She proudly showed me her picture wall of grand children and the throw her mother had crocheted for her years ago, and a little green sweater on a doll with the block letter "S" her mom knitted for her when she was in college at Michigan State, and so much more.

My visit lasted only an hour but in that short time, I had found a new friend. Barb has been a customer to my bird shop for over 20 years but I knew very little about her. On her last visit in she asked me if I had a hat she could buy with ear flaps (we offer Stormy Kromer hats) because her ears were cold. The one she wanted was not yet available so I decided to knit her one. It only took a few hours and because of the type of wool I chose, I knew she'd never have cold ears again. And when she put it on that afternoon, it fit!

Louise Dawson
on behalf of the the Naturalists at J.J. Cardinals



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J.J. Cardinal's Wild Bird & Nature Store ®
12830 S. Saginaw St., Grand Blanc, MI  48439  810-695-8733
originally posted 02/28/16  illustrations, text & fun © J.J. Cardinal's 1992-2016
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