Thursday, February 15, 2007

Post-Storm Visitors

Flocking, fluttering wrens, the bully jays, cuneiform-tailed magpies and a few plump tits showed no fear of me this morning.

The crusty, frigid and just nasty residue of yesterday's storm -- glory be that NStar didn't fail us again -- filled the rhododendrons below, the beech above and the forsythia beyond with eager patrons of the feeder. Proof of their hunger to get energy to heat themselves came when I pounded on the window.

Many stayed put while I loosened the storm window to get to the feeder. The sleet had coated the outside and made a gelid epoxy. I ended up with a huge screwdriver as a wedge and a rubber mallet to operate the slides on the window.

As you might suppose, the roundest patrons were first to the feeder and were hovering within reach as I closed the window.

Other regular visitors did not risk life, limb or lemon to gather deposit bottles. These modern gleaners are extras on the urban stage. The old man who arrives after dark, driving what my grandfather would have called a flivver, is part of the night shift. He is considerate and quiet at his task. If I am putting recycling at the curb when he comes, I greet him and he responds, but nothing more.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but that is a small kindness we can do, one that costs us very little. As with Ruth and Naomi, such gleaning can be significant to those who must do it.

Woe to those who tell me they resent the bottle gatherers. We place our deposit bottles in separate bags for the ease of our evening visitor. If he passes with $1 from us, a quarter elsewhere and another $1 down the block, it is the preponderance of the small -- negligible to us and together meaningful to him.

On this nasty morning, it doesn't hurt anything to hold back the deposit-bottle bags for a week.

The best side-effect of this is that when we take the little care required for our visitors, we often think of other small favors to do.

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