The birds start here every morning at 5:30.
It is terrible, but I view them as an annoyance that wakes me when I'd rather be asleep. I believe this is because I wasn't used to birds as a young child. Until I was 7, we lived in a cluster of apartments, on the edge of what we called "the field" behind the hospital. We had trees, and a play ground, and a cement slab in squares that covered the length of the complex. To me, there was nothing different than what I saw in our Dick and Jane readers at school.
I never thought about why the birds disturbed me until today. A memory that has always puzzled me about my alarm, regarding the birds, is of me at my grandparent's house in Mississippi. They lived in a neighborhood that was probably 25 years old in the mid 60's. There were trees and all manner of small scale landscaping, achieved by my grandmother's desires and my grandfather's toil.
We called my grandmother "Eileen" as this was her name, and she insisted upon our calling her this and never any word that might let on that she was, indeed, a grandmother.
Eileen's bedroom was at the back of the modest house, with a door that opened onto the back patio. Her room was light and airy, with a "teaster" bed (a term I've never heard anywhere else). White eyelet canopy, coverlets, shams, throw, and dresser scarves seemed all to float a bit above the floor. Eileen herself would be in her bed, in silk pajamas or in what Daddy Guy, my grandfather, called "froo froo" neglegees - flowy, to the floor, like a puff of white cloud.
It was customary and a great sign of acceptance, for me to creep into her bed the night before and fall asleep or climb up early in the morning, as it became light outside.
My memory of this incident is walking into her room, that glowed by the pink light of the morning, her coiffed hair poking out of the white layers of eyelet. I lay quietly, and heard the birds. I listened, afraid of what it might be. Finally, she woke, beautiful and smiling. Lyrically, she cooed, "Ohhh, Ann Marie, listen to the mocking bird."
I asked about the birds and why did they sound that way, and why in the morning, and why this morning.....
Today, I realized that the cement and young trees around our apartments probably didn't house many birds -- and none just outside the window of my bedroom.
Through the screen door, I heard the birds, smelled lilacs, honeysuckle, and roses. I felt the humid air, and the damp ground dewing outside.
I laid back in the castle of silk and cotton, pressed next to Eileen and stared up at the white canopy, with a feeling of, “This is very different.” I didn't know why she liked the disturbance of the birds, but I didn't ask.
© Copyright 2016 AnnMC. All rights reserved.
Essay / Memoir
Essay / Memoir
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