I made my fat balls quite a while ago, and was still wondering whether I could find anything profound to say about them in today’s blog post, when I was distracted by a loud squawking from the front garden. When I looked out I was treated to the sight of three crows fighting what I’ve since found out was probably a red-tailed hawk, for custody of a long-dead opossum. The birds were being fed but somehow this lacked the poetic warm feeling I had been hoping for. And the opossum was really stinky.
The fight over the opossum corpse had also scared all the regular garden birds away, so for today’s blog post there are some birds that we see on the school run. They are very ordinary urban sparrows, and they like to gather together on the telegraph wires. We see them every day, and we really really like them, because they’re ordinary, and small, and because we think the poor things must stick around for the long, cold Ohio winters (otherwise they would have left by now). Also, sparrows are very biblical (see Matthew 10.29). So, here’s a not very good poetic tribute to them, but a little sonnet is the best I could do – sorry birds, you deserve better!
If two are worth a penny – no great cost –
then this great crowd is worth at least a quid;
I’d pay far more to know that I’d not lost
such life, by winter’s frost and cold outbid.
They thickly fur the wires overhead
like iron filings on a magnet’s pole,
Grey-brown against the sky looks black instead
and all the parts blur dark within the whole.
This testament to fragile nature’s strength
in numbers: cold alone, together warm,
as all along the endless cable’s length
they huddle, side by side, before the storm.
A noise – a whir of wings – and then, as one,
the whole great flock lifts skywards, and is gone.