“It’s gray here,” I texted my friend Anne this morning. We often write together virtually first thing in the morning. “How are things in your neck of the woods?”
“Sunny,” she replied. Anne lives in California. “Birds are singing.”
“Here, too,” I wrote.
“I can’t imagine a world without birds,” she said.
“Our first line of connection with nature—in cities, neighborhoods, the country.” I added.
Inspired by Mary Oliver’s advice from yesterday, I chose to start my day among trees. With a mug of tea and my collection of Jane Hirshfield’s poetry tucked under my arm, Lulu and I headed out for a walk among the trees in our yard.
Shortly after we were outside, the sieve of gray skies started leaking water; however, a thick umbrella of kukui leaves kept me dry.
“We need a bench down here,” I said to Lulu. She was busy fixating on a scent on a blade of grass. Likely a pig or cat roamed through the yard in the night. We haven’t seem much evidence of pigs lately; however, cats woke me up with their screeching two nights this week.
I found a level spot where Eric had trimmed a tree branch and placed my mug on it. Then, I flipped to the next poem in Jane’s collection. Ironically, or not, the poem’s title was “Branch.” I kid you not. In it, she asks:
Is there anywhere on earth one branch that has never been perched on?
That is not what branches exist for. Yet the birds come.
I want to edit my earlier statement to Anne. Birds are not our only first line of connection with nature. Trees are, too.
Trees are useful umbrellas during short rain bursts. They’re also where birds nest, where birds find food, where birds roost, where birds sleep.
The birds around my home that I hear frequently are White-rumped shama, Northern cardinal, and common myna. Sometimes, western meadowlark, too. All are non-native, meaning they were introduced to our islands by humans. Because they evolved in areas with mosquitoes, these introduced birds arrived with built-in immunities to avian diseases like pox and malaria. That’s why these introduced birds survive alongside mosquitoes at lower and warmer elevations in Hawaii, unlike Hawaii’s native forest birds. Hawaii’s birds are still adjusting to these diseases that are spread by mosquitoes. Unfortunately, many of Hawaii’s beautiful forest bird species died out before they could develop immunities. In fact, only a couple species show even a hint of developing any resistance fo these two diseases.
It didn’t take long for the rain to stop, and Lulu and I made our way back to the house, and I heard the cooing of a Zebra dove, reminding me that not all birds rise with the sun, like my husband. Some prefer to sleep in a bit, like me.
Speaking of the hubs, I’ll have to break it to him later that he has another project on his to-do list: A bench.
Hawaii’s statewide COVID-19 case count grew by five to 601. Unfortunately, two more people died, bringing the death count to 14. Kauai continues to remain at 21 cases.