Breakfast at the Bird Feeder

At 6 am it’s the coolest time of the day. I try to spend as much time outside before the DC area humidity gets me, and there’s no other option except siesta, so I’ve been taking my tea and oatmeal on my balcony. The space is large enough for a couple of chairs, a side stool, and a few plants. I added a birdfeeder this year and I love it.

Mostly, there are sparrows brown and delicate, but there’s also the sweetest Tufted Titmouse. His little downy blue-grey mohawk and big black eyes speak to me. The house finches, males have this beautiful scarlet cap and breast. They mob the feeder and devour the seed. There’s a mating pair of Cardinals, orange beaks cracking sunflower seeds. I also love the White-breasted Nuthatch who hops up the building clinging to the bricks, waiting for his turn. At the feeder, he dips his long thin beak into the seed.

Of course, the big guys want a piece of the action. There’s a red-bellied woodpecker, which doesn’t actually have a red belly but a red cap and white belly. Its black tail is dotted and dashed with white like Morse code come to life. There are Blue Jays who scream at the smaller birds and drive them away. A Mourning Dove who has only visited a few times, and a huge crow who perched on the hook holding the feeder this morning. (I cawed at him to leave the seed for the smaller birds and he complied.)

The whole time, Rothko (my cat) crouches inside, tip of tail flicking in anticipation of a kill that never comes.

Rothko stalking the balcony bird feeder.

How do you eat a whale?

I’m in the copy editing stage of the publishing process for my book SHIRA AND ESTHER DOUBLE THE WONDER. My middle-grade debut novel launches Fall 2023 from Chronicle Books.

Perhaps because of the heat, my attention is not as focused as usual. Like a squirrel, I skitter from one thing to another—foraging, cleaning, social media, videos, playing with Rothko the cat, and back to the work at hand before something else shiny catches my eye. I’ve been waiting and working for this moment for the last 20 years and yet, I’m procrastinating.

One show that I’ve been obsessively procrastinating with is Home Town Takeover with Ben (a cuddly bear of a man who can make anything out of wood) and Erin (pixie-dream-girl, and artist extraordinaire) Napier. The premise of this show (in case you don’t know) is that they have chosen one town to revitalize. Ostensibly, the show is about remodeling buildings but REALLY it is about leadership, economics, transportation policy, marketing and community. The Napiers often reflect on the massive task they’ve taken on with the question: How do you eat a whale? The answer of course is: One bite at a time.

Back to copy edits. Enjoy this excerpt of the poem “The Whale,” by Joseph Edwards Carpenter.

The Whale
by Joseph Edwards Carpenter

1

Oh! the whale is free of the boundless sea
He lives for a thousand years;
He sinks to rest in the billows breast,
Nor the roughest tempest fears:
The howling blast as it hurries past,
Is music to lull him to sleep,
And he scatters the spray in his boisterous play,
As he dashes the king of the deep.
Oh! the rare old whale, ‘mid storm and gale,
In his ocean home shall be,
A giant in might, where might is right
And kind of the boundless sea!