My apartment complex is two squat rectangles, two floors a piece, painted pretty yellow and accented in teal, separated by two tall, beautiful pine trees in a courtyard. When I first arrived I could see the beach if I put my head up against the bedroom window, or more easily if I walked out the front door. I like to check on the tide, see if there are whitecaps, is it foggy before I step outside for my morning walk. The giant flagpole in the marina back there tells me which way the wind is going. When I first arrived it was cold and quiet. Mourning doves were in the trees, and I watched their behaviors, their cooings and comings and goings. I heard the wind when I first arrived, wind in the pines, there is no sound like it. Well.. maybe the sound of “I love you Mom” compares, but I’m not here to compare.
Over the last few days I’ve focused my gaze on the incessant squeaking cheeping chipping peeping chirping of the birds outside my west and east windows. (I keep the windows open constantly because the cross-breeze is required in this warmer clime, and I will not run the air conditioner until I melt, oh hell no.) O god, for hours, the chirping doesn’t end, frantic chirping like their house is burning down or the world is ending. They’ve usurped the gentle cooing of my doves. Alongside this phenomena is the sound of a hydraulic nail gun, metal grinder, and wood sander, because the realtor decided to remove, vertical metal bar by vertical bar, the old handrail and replace it with fancy wooden lattice-looking things. They’re not even halfway done. The birds begin chirping an hour before dawn, and the nail gun doesn’t stop until dinnertime. I am focusing on the wrong things.
On the east side of my apartment are two trees, trees that have filled out with leaves since winter, and I can no longer see the ocean. Back here is secluded and safe. How do I know this? Because it’s where the mourning doves used to come and land on the shed down below under tree cover, hunkering down and spread out their wings in the sun safe from the osprey who prowls the bay. I’d never seen any of this before. Out my bedroom window I watched a robin with four of her juveniles conduct a peeping choir, teaching them to maneuver here and here and there in the trees. The male cardinal fascinates me most with his juvenile. He put a worm down in front of his offspring perched on the shed, and she had no idea what to do with it. She hunkered and shivered in front of him, peeping like the world was ending until he finally picked it up and put it in her beak. She hopped a few hops then hunkered down, still, like a fallen brown leaf and he flew away.
I wondered what that would be like, the moment the cardinal comes back with a grub and his juvenile is gone? She’d flown off on her own because there was a sight, a scent, a sound so fascinating she had to see it on her own. He will fly down with a grub expecting to see his offspring but she will be gone. And he will put it down and fly back to his nest. I wish my Dad got to see my nest, this place that used to be quiet but now covered in wings and construction and incessant sunrises. So this one’s for you Dad, wherever you are. I’ll try and do my best not be a grumpy cow when the birds are noisy or when it’s bitter cold. I think of you coming out to see the lunar eclipse, as sick and tired as you were, we didn’t even ask, but you came, silent with your hood up. I will try to honor your stiff spine.