Thursday, 21 February 2013

Sainthood Deferred

The branches of a bare burly walnut embraced the entire barnyard, and on one of these a robin took to perching and fretting whenever I entered the front half of the barn. She often held a worm in her beak, and at length I realised she had a nest on the ridgepole, directly above my tent.

I sat below it on a covered bucket, beside a table I'd thrown together using scraps of tubafor and two sawhorses someone else had thrown together.

"Silly birdie," I chided. "If I'd wanted to eat you, you'd be poop now."

She chucked and fidgeted, worm flapping. Periodically she fluttered to the ground to dunk her meal in a rain-filled hoof print, keeping it fresh while she waited for me to clear out.

"I already know where your nest is," I told her. "Just come on in. I'm drinking tea. I won't bother you."

She was unmoved.

"Look." I tugged the sleeve of my robe. "Monk. Non-violent." I nodded toward my monk stick. "Soup's on. Come feed your kids."

But she refused. So I withdrew to the back of the barn, where it was dark and the cordwood piled to the rafters, and sat on a rickety delaminated coffee table by the cold woodstove. But this too proved no solution: soon I had a second robin on my hands, fretting and clucking and urging me out. Her nest was in the opposite corner, above the woodpile.

"Listen," I said, exasperated. "Does the name 'St. Francis' mean anything you?"

Apparently it did not.

We need more Catholic birds.

(Adapted from 100 Days on the Mountain, copyright RK Henderson. Painting of St. Francis of Assisi not harming birds by Albert Chevellier. Photo of Turdus migratorius by Ingrid Taylar. Both images courtesy of WikiMedia Commons.)
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