We knew moving away from the city would be a huge transition. Though we grew up in rural areas, Chris and I had both been in and around Boston for more than 10 years (Chris closer to 20 years). That would be 10+ years of living a short walk to a convenience store, having any type of cuisine imaginable delivered to our home, a steady hum of noise, short walks to the park, unplanned visits with our neighbors, and being mere minutes from any sort of cultural activity we could dream of in Boston.
We also spent years longing for more space, less traffic, and more nature.
The first night we spent in our new and very rural house we now call home, exhausted and in total shock from the day we’d just been through (we found out we were closing on our home one minute before the registry of deeds closed, with cats loaded into the car and two moving vans sitting in our new driveway), three things stood out loud and clear:
1. The crickets in our pond were loud (and beautiful).
2. We could see the stars, crisply and clearly without light pollution.
3. Aside from the crickets, our new surroundings were so shockingly quiet and peaceful.
We felt a child-like sense of wonder.
The next day, another thing blew our minds: the sheer number of birds all around. These birds were very different from the seagulls and chickadees we had in our previous seaside town. There were hummingbirds on the hibiscus trees, cardinals in the shrubs by the driveway, doves in the driveway, blue jays, woodpeckers pecking away at the trees above, and so many others we haven’t named yet. We had nature all around us. Amazing, life-affirming nature surrounded our new home and we immediately wanted to nurture the nature.
As the days have gotten colder and winter is finally here, the birds need us. Insects aren’t available to eat, there are no berries or seeds left, and soon any remaining food will be buried under the snow (well, we hope it does eventually actually snow for real here in Massachusetts). We don’t yet have bird feeders up, so we’ve been making cakes to hang in the trees and we’ve been leaving seed piles on the ground. You can find a great bird cake recipe here on ehow.com. We used every available cookie cutter we had, most of which were dinosaur shaped, and still didn’t have enough.
Rest assured, muffin tins work just fine.
The straws are to create holes for string to hang the cakes. Baker’s twine works well and it is reusable.
It is really important to us to help Anderson connect to nature, feel compassion for wildlife and animals, and get him in the fresh air, so we’ve let him own this one. For the last few weeks, he has been the official bird food master. Even on mornings when I’m ready to carry him like a football and run him to the car because we’re late, he will not let me forget the birds.
We also bring a mug filled with birdseed out and we leave a healthy pile in the driveway.
If you have a resolution this year to find more daily joy, this is a wonderful place to start. Anderson now refers to the birds as “his friends” and calls them when the food is ready: “Hey birds! Here’s the food!” I can’t find where I’ve stashed my telephoto lens in this rambling new house and therefore I haven’t been able to capture a photo yet of the actual birds, but we’ve seen many different kinds, most memorably the brilliant and breathtaking red cardinals. There isn’t a single seed left when we return home at the end of the day.