"Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them."
I wanted this quotation from the Bible to begin this piece, but had no idea where to find it. Thankfully I have a resource that helps me locate things like that. When I looked for "birds of the air" I was surprised to find nearly thirty references. At least each verse given had a short quotation after it so that I could locate the verse I was looking for. It was under the section about worry.
Last week I noticed the activity of the hummingbirds. I am not sure how long they have been around, but this was the first I saw them out tapping the flowers. The rhododendron and azaleas that are in the bed by my kitchen window are in full bloom. The hummingbirds were drilling into those blossoms. Of course, they were in direct competition with the bumble bees.
When I was weeding the other day I heard the humming of the bees long before I saw them. When you hear that you just try to stay out of their way.
I love the birds, but with the bear in this area I am reluctant to feed them anymore. I have had so many birdfeeders destroyed. When nature is doing the feeding it is a different story. The birds come and I am free to watch them.
There is also a robin. I have not noticed her eating anything but I have seen her fly by with grass and straw in her mouth so that lets me know she is building her nest in one of the rhododendron bushes. Once I know that she has eggs I will keep my cat in because I am sure he would notice her and I do not want any disasters.
The nest on the old birdfeeder sits empty. That is where she set up housekeeping last season. That spot is relatively safe because the cat cannot reach it. The bushes bend before he gets up high enough to do any damage.
The barn swallows are also out and about. A family has set up residence in the barn. I love to watch them fly around. They dive and swoop catching bugs. They are so graceful. They soar between the dips and dives. Whenever we were taking in hay the barn swallows followed the tractor. As the hay went down the bugs were displaced so this made a perfect feeding ground for the birds.
They continued to work the field until all the hay was in bales and removed from the field. Often they buzzed by my head if I happened to be the tractor driver.
Years ago I brought my class to the farm for a field trip. Everything about farming was new to most of them. My soon-to-be husband showed them around and explained how things worked on the farm. I overheard one of the little boys telling another one, "Those are the birds that swallow barns." Part of what I had taught them prior to the trip had stuck, but he was not exactly recalling it correctly. I took time for a teachable moment. We all looked at the swallows and I corrected the misinformation.
The goldfinches are as colorful as they get by now. You cannot miss those bright yellow bodies and black feathers. During the winter season if you see the finches they are rather dull in color. Nature protects them during the off season.
As I drive down the road I watch for the red-winged blackbirds. They sit on the fence posts and on the wires. They, too, help with insect control around here. When nature is balanced it does a good job. When it gets out of whack the problems begin.
Another part of the quotation that I opened with says, "See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these."
No one tends the wildflowers yet they flourish and break forth into prolific blossoms each year on schedule. My daylilies are already forming buds. Soon the bright orange blooms will brighten my day. They are one of my favorite wildflowers. I think the reason I like them is because there are new blossoms every day to be discovered. They blossom on and on until all the buds are spent.
Never take the beauty that the Lord provides for granted. If you are ever sick for a time you soon come to realize how precious all of these everyday things are. The hills are alive on these beautiful summer days. Take time to observe nature. Sit on the front porch. Take a walk in the woods. Go to your favorite spot to see what you can see. Nature is a powerful teacher. It also presents a time for the generations to connect.
Ann Swanson writes from her home in Russell, Pa. Contact at firstname.lastname@example.org