Tonight as I sat outside at Open City restaurant on Calvert Street I had one of those little moments in life that are all too rare--mainly because we don't pay attention--a moment I'd like to share in this blog.
As I sat with my Sam Adams lager, I was morose and fighting to hide tears as I thought about my 9 year old rabbit Woodstock, crippled with spondylosis and now dying from cancer. Eight years ago tomorrow this beloved animal came into my life and has blessed it ever since. I know goodbye is near and it's hard not to dwell on it. But since I didn't think bursting into tears at an outdoor cafe in D.C would be either appropriate or attractive, I turned my attention elsewhere.
That's when I noticed the sparrows.
As I ate my veggie quinoa, I watched as these tiny birds flitted about the shelves containing the basins of dirty dishes, many carrying the unfinished remains of human suppers. Much to their luck, three french fries dropped from a plate carried by a hustling busboy. One sparrow wasted no tine, swooping in and grabbing a French fry twice the length of his body and dashed away. Inwardly I cheered (is it really humane to cheer on a bird about to consume so much saturated fat?) Then a second bird aimed for one of the remaining fries; instead of snatching it and flying away, he pecked at it several times, much to my chagrin. Not a good strategy for this little guy--a waiter burst out of the restaurant frightening this bird and his feathered friends back to their original perch on the planters on the next door restaurant's patio. Minutes passed, but this hungry bird had no chance to get back. Busboys and waiters walked in and out, and, as I feared, several rubber-soled feet flattened the fries into the brick.
I was well into my blueberry pie slice when the sparrows ventured back. Much to my amusement, one of them figured out there was more food on the plates stashed in the basins and proceeded to hop onto a plate. He snatched a large fry and got out of there. Meantime another feathered friend-- or was it the same bird who tried this before--made an attempt to peck at the flattened fry on the bricks. Once, twice, several more times he was thwarted by pounding feet. One more time, he hopped over--peck,peck,peck. Under my breath, I whispered, "come on pal, just grab it and get outta here!" I don't know if he heard me--I hope the other restaurant patrons didn't!--but at last he got a firm hold on this long, sneaker-crushed fry and he soared into the summer breeze, fluttering across Calvert Street with his hard-earned meal dangling from his beak. I wanted to cheer "Yes!" with the sheer joy for this little bird's triumph, but social decorum--and the strong desire not to spend the night in a looney bin--kept me in check.
What's the point, you ask? In sum, my sparrow friends reminded me to seek out the simple joys in nature even as we are immersed in sadness at the mortality in it. They stirred me from my gloom tonight and they will never know how they made me smile and brought me a brief sheer moment of happiness even as I try to prepare for the mourning period coming my way. Thank you, my fine feathered friends. I will never forget this.