The first time I saw a tufted titmouse at the bird feeder outside our front window was November 13, 2015, almost 15 months ago. It was the day of the coordinated terrorist attacks in Paris. Over 100 were dead with hundreds injured at multiple locations in and around Paris. Heartfelt sentiment and condolences for Paris saturated traditional and social media. The world mourned with France that day as it did in January of the same year in the attack at Charlie Hebdo: “Je suis Charlie” the free world had cried then. Paris love and solidarity were everywhere. That day of repeated Paris terror in 2015, November 13, I texted my mother in law, Sally, also a bird enthusiast, to tell her about the titmouse sighting.
Sally: I love thinking of a nice bird visiting with all that has gone on today including in Paris Me: Yes, today it is a comfort. The way birds often are. Don't you love that in scripture the Holy Spirit is often a dove. That birds are messengers. To Noah. To Elijah. At Jesus baptism Sally: They say doves are the most sensitive of birds Me: Huh. Didn't know that Sally: If people are fighting in a house and doves are outside they fly away
This past Novemember my spouse was out of town for the weekend. It was November 12, the Saturday after the election. The girls wanted me to watch them do a fashion show. Of course they needed to wear my clothes and shoes. Reluctantly, I agreed to it. I sat on the couch, waiting for their grand entrances, trying not to think about the mess they were making of my closet. I watched the titmice at the feeder while I waited and remembered that it had been about a year since their first visit. There were three that came regularly now, one seemed smaller. I really hoped it was their offspring–that our sunflower seed meal provisions nourished their bodies enough, supported the wellness they needed, to thrive and raise healthy young. With their dark eyes and gray crest–part regal, part rockstar– they are fascinating to watch. They have their own eating style different from other birds that visit. They take one seed and then perch on top of the shepherd’s hook that supports the feeder. With the seed in their beak they tap-tap-tap the shell away to get to the nutmeat inside. Its incredible really. Can you imagine trying to unshell pistachios for your dinner without hands?
The girls wobbled down the carpet steps in my heels, nearly tripping on the hems of the oversized dresses and skirts. They took turns descending the stairs so they wouldn’t have to share the spotlight. Their wide bright smiles pronounced how beautiful they felt. So proud they were to fashion an adult outfit, so pleased to be wearing grown-lady clothes. They were radiant and so glad for me to see them. It was priceless, a mom moment to savor for a long time.
On inauguration day I saw a tufted titmouse at the feeder before I dashed out to run errands on that cloudy Friday morning. We see them far less regularly in the winter months. Part of me thought the inauguration wouldn’t actually happen–that some legal caveat, some conflict of interest, some blackmail evidence, some sexual assault testimony, some audit, something–would cancel this at the last minute. I thought perhaps when I pulled into the garage and checked my phone at 12:04 p.m. that Donald Trump would not be live on the internet giving his inaugural speech. But it happened. It happened the same traditional way it did for 44 other men before him.
Two million people marched the day after the inauguration to support the solidarity of women and minority groups insulted without remorse by this new Commander-in-Chief. Wikipedia reports that is was the largest protest in a single day in United States history. There were also protests on every continent all over the world, including in Paris. They were of course the best dressed marchers in their leather and fur and statement accessories, but in a not-even-trying, I-just-woke-up-like-this way. French women always look good (very very very unfair!!!) in that effortless edgy way that eludes American women. My favorite photo was a black and white shot taken by W Magazine*. In it a woman with a funky hat marches under the Eiffle Tower with a sign that reads “Je Suis Nasty Woman.”
Life has a way of coming full circle doesn’t it? Perhaps before the photographer arrived, this woman was feeding pigeons (did you know they are actually doves?). Maybe they were following her, perching on her sign or on her lovely hat.
*I don’t advise looking for the photo. While googling W Magazine for this post I inadvertently saw way more of Kate Moss than I ever care to see. What is it with Europeans and nudity anyway?