A lot of birds have visited the bird feeder outside the office window this spring, more than usual, for who knows what reason. We’ve attracted a brown-headed cowbird (not necessarily something to celebrate, but what can you do), and we’ve had a towhee hanging around, which in years past we’ve only ever seen in the winter feeding on the ground.
All this activity, and the state of the dwarf peach, which is almost all leafed out at this point, had made me wonder if I could expect a visit from the rose-breasted grosbeak this year.
I met the grosbeak when I was working on my dissertation.
“Met” is not the right word, of course. I saw him, and if he’d really been able to see me through the window he presumably would have flown away. He doesn’t know me from Adam, as my mom would have said. Still, he and the grosbeak family took on a kind of vaguely symbolic status in my imagination. He was a surprising but welcome visitor, a warm-blooded sign of life, and I developed a fondness for him and a sentimental attachment that is a matter of public record (here, here, here, and here).
And then I stopped seeing him. I was off teaching during the relevant mornings, or I was neglecting the bird feeder, or maybe it was the weather, or some other reason, who knows. He didn’t stop by, or if he did, I didn’t see him.
I missed him.
But not this year.
It’s funny what can make a person smile.