January 6, 2022 — Mark this date on your calendar as the one where you have enough evidence to lock me up, to quote Perry Mason, in an east-coast sanatarium. For the first time in a year or so, we have snow. And like all first snows, it is beautiful, covering the ground like a pure white fleece blanket. Since 8 a.m., I’ve been in my office watching birds feed at four feeders on our deck. The feeding tableau doesn’t seem real–the birds have been coming all morning with no break. There are several pairs of cardinals, three different kinds of woodpeckers (pileated, downy, and what I think is a red-crowned woodpecker), tufted tit-mice, and various small brown birds. I think some may be goldfinches with a darker color for the winter.
Their behavior fascinates me, especially the cardinals who hover around the window feeder and talk and chatter to me, or that’s how I perceive it. Cardinals have special meanings for many people. I like the Cardinals because they are the mascot of my college. (I have a Cardinal red car with Cardinal license plates.) I hear there’s a baseball team with that name, but I don’t much care about them. Some people believe that the red birds represent a loved one who has passed and visited in the form of a cardinal. Regardless, Charlie is a beautiful bird. That other can see their departed loved one in his red crown and feathers make him all more appealing.
My time communing with our feathered friends is one of the great joys of retirement. I sit in my comfortable chair, having my second cup of coffee and watching the snow descend on these delicate creatures. I know it makes me a cliche (yes, I do eat supper at 4 p.m., and I talk to myself, so what?)
I spent time each day on Facebook for more than a decade, feeding their algorithms. I originally joined for two reasons: to stalk my non-communicative son at college and keep up with friends after the dissolution of Salon’s writing group, Open Salon. Our adult son became a grown-up and communicated regularly. I stopped posting or sharing most political posts after 2016 because either I would get into arguments with people or be trolled. It wasn’t worth it. When I got an Instagram account to promote my new book, I believe that led to extreme trolling, hacking, and copying my accounts.
I’m not trying to be holier-than-thou at all. My account is still there because I realized I needed it to watch my church services. However, since I announced my flouncing and didn’t read or post, the account has been inactive. I thought I would miss it more than I do, but I don’t. Several friends have made me aware of when there’s a death or an issue with a friend.
Now I have more time. I don’t get rattled over what Charlie Cardinal says at my window, and I often get upset about others’ posts. While I often felt tense or anxious when I read Facebook, I relaxed and focused when watching the birds.
For me, leaving Facebook was the right decision. Maybe I’ll come back someday if our national polarization lessens. But, for now, I would rather spend my time with these fat little creatures of nature.