Earth Journal
Bluebirds for Christmas
By Audrey Y. Scharmen

They came late to the juniper bush, stubbornly choosing to nest, yet again, amid dense boughs where black snakes bask in summer. The predators had moved on, into winter quarters beneath the boathouse on the shore. And so it was accomplished: the babies safely born.

September was blue. Blue as the birds, blue as the creek that lay beyond, blue as the drift of morning glories that shade the birdbath where the parents came at dusk each day with their trio of freckled fledglings.

Farther south, a fierce storm was gathering strength and heading up the coast, sucking the blue from each day, shoving each brutally toward autumn. There came then a long day of ominous silence, the yellow bilious hue of danger, and the birdbath was abandoned.

Throughout the night that followed, we wondered where small wild things hid from such violence. How they survive the awesome power of a hurricane. In the dark hours came roaring wind and heavy rain to carom crazily about the shore, whipping the creek to a white froth, battering window panes and terrorizing trees until dawn came weak and pale and late to say the storm had raced north to bully New England.

Stillness prevailed, and we went into the yard to walk among dismembered trees and broken birds' nests and sodden rafts of foliage where winter suddenly had come. Where a chill wind had dismantled summer and stripped the morning glories of all their blue.

The family of bluebirds was spared and they came in the disheveled dusk. The babes wore the full plumage of adults - and the wide-eyed stare of the very young. In the darkest of days, they had found the blue.

And it came to pass that morning glories returned to bloom into December on leafless vines atop my backyard feeder where snowbirds flock. That bluebirds come each day to bathe like nosegays of cerulean petals amid golden locust leaves that cover the water. They linger to light an auspicious season, these last nestlings of a tired year. They are an old juniper's gift to a new millennium.

Scharmen, who won a first prize from the Maryland D.C. Delaware Press Association for her columns for NBT in 1998, reflects from Leason Cove, near Solomons.

| Issue 49 |

Volume VII Number 49
December 9-15, 1999
New Bay Times

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