Blue Valentine

Sunday dawns oyster gray, cold.

Rain rolls down the windows like tear-streaks of the wind, which howls in anguish under the eaves like a maimed creature.

In the backyard, pines stand in solidarity, like soldiers at a burial. Knee-deep in a sea of mud.

All dreary in its own right. I do not need to color it more so with my own thoughts, or to further stir my restive soul. Day after day after day of rain. No snow. At least no ice.

Am I unhappy?

No.

It’s Valentine’s Day. My husband and I have exchanged cards, chocolate, a sampler of hot sauces. “Burning Love,” the box reads. The flames on it are certainly a bright spot.

Am I tired?

Not as much as I was at the end of the workweek, the final one of remote teaching. We return to campus this week. Hard to envision the epic regulations to be enforced, the acrobatics of keeping elementary children distanced in imaginary bubbles.

Am I worried?

Concerned is a better word. It is a time to be like the pines, standing in solidarity despite the grayness, the bleakness, the muddiness, the wearing-on of things. I don’t know if I have it in me. This is not like me. My patience is peeled unusually thin; turpentine burns too near the surface. I do not like the feel of it.

Is my spirit failing me this Sunday morning? I should think not. It is a seasoned spirit. Today also happens to be the anniversary of my husband’s ordination, many, many years ago. We were so young, setting our feet on a path we could not clearly see, but we walked, and we walked, moment by moment, in sun, in shadows, over years, across decades…and here we are. I am grateful. He has already gone to church. I am getting ready, mulling this miserable scene beyond the blinds. I should have kept them closed.

I wish I could see the bluebird. He shows up almost every day, if I’m watching at the right time. He sits on the deck railing for long stretches. Little messenger of brightness.

Why should seeing him make me feel better-? Maybe hope is electric blue. Never thought of that before.

I sigh, and am turning away, when I catch a fluttering of wings…

The female. Not the bright blue I am longing for, but still. This means a nest may be in the works, nearby! Might I see baby bluebirds this spring? Dare I hope for such bounty? Do I deserve it?

She takes a bath, there on the railing. I think of Esther’s yearlong preparation for her union with the King.

And then my little lady bird is gone. I wait. The railing remains bare. He will not come. Maybe it’s the rain. I can’t keep watching. Must get to church or I will not be in good graces with the pastor, which is a problem I don’t need, since I live with him.

Happy Valentine’s Day, bluebirds, I say in my mind as I bundle up to leave.

And then, at the last, a flash of blue, landing on the railing…it’s him, it’s him! No, wait! Both! I have never seen them together before.

Rain never interferes with the mail and this is surely addressed to me as much as an envelope bearing my handwritten name.

A gift of love, my blue Valentine.

One day I will be poised just right to get a photo of MY birds, which look exactly like this. Eastern bluebirds are known to begin nesting in February. Let us hope…

Update: The Phrontistery definition: “valentine – of birds, to sing to a mate.”

If you are so inclined, here’s a little poem written on the occasion of the first sighting last week: First bluebird.

*******

Photos:
Vintage postcard. Kaarina Dillabough. CC BY-SA
Eastern Bluebird. 611catbirds, too. CC BY

19 thoughts on “Blue Valentine

  1. Fran, I felt like I was there with you and the rain. Your lyrical language painted pictures. Love how bluebirds changed your mood. They change my mood, too. I’m happy you saw Mr. and Mrs. together. Bluebirds have always been my favorite birds. Though, I only see them in the winter at our beef suet. Today, well considering how late it is, it was actually yesterday, I said to my husband, “Craig can you please put out the beef suet because I need to see my bluebirds. I will consider it to be another Valentine’s gift. You have taller boots than I do.” (We have snow and hopefully will be getting more today into tomorrow.)

    Both bluebirds and woodpeckers love beef suet, here, especially when it feels like 0 degrees with the wind! My usual woodpeckers are a downy, with their red caps, sometimes hairy woodpeckers visit, which have more red and are longer. Three times this winter I have been fortunate to see a beautiful red-headed woodpecker! His whole head is a maroonish-red and he’s 9″ long! One frigid, blue sky January morning years ago, I actually saw a pileated woodpecker at our suet! They are big birds around 15-19” and it was funny to see him at our small suet feeder. I quickly put on my boots and snuck out to our backyard to see him. One time I was lucky enough to see saw Mr., & Mrs .Pileated, and their juvenile in the backyard!

    Happy Day to you seeing your students, again. Remember kids are resilient. Here in upstate NY they have been doing pretty well six’ apart and in reduced class sizes. They will be happy to see your smile, in person, just as happy you will be to see their smiles in person!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Love this woodpecker story, Gail. One day at school I saw a woodpecker lying in the mulch outside by the full-length glass wall in the hallway. Gorgeous bird; I was sure it had broken its neck, fluing into the glass. Heart-wrenching. I ran to get help moving it before children should see it, and on returning – it was sitting up! I was able to get a photo before it shook off the shock and flew away – felt like a miracle to me. Wrote a poem about it. Thank you for your heartfelt response here and the shared loved of bluebirds – and for those encouraging words. The children ALWAYS brighten a day.

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  2. Hi dear Fran. Anniversary of Ordination wishes to your Hubby. And to You. This is such a touching meditation, as is the bluebird posing for you on the other page & these bluebirds on the antique post card. Lifts me up. Appreciations!

    Jan/Bookseedstudio

    Liked by 1 person

  3. WOW! That piece had me on the edge of my seat! You had me appreciating your resolve to see and feel the gratitude needed to rise and be in the day ahead! You had me laughing when you said you the pastor might be made at you and in the end, I had the chills! Those bluebirds are your bluebirds! I’ve heard from my daughter at Elon that the weather has been awful in NC! I had to send her warmest winter coat last week!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Many thanks, Dawn… the bluebirds are so encouraging. I have never seen them so close to the house before. Elon is an excellent school with a beautiful campus! Exciting for your daughter. Yesterday was a lovely day, sunny and springlike – I hope she was able to enjoy it. Today is back to winter temps and 100 percent chance of freezing rain tonight…and students are just returning to campus today.

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  4. I’m so glad your adorable blue birds of happiness came on Valentine’s Day as a sign of love and hope. These times have been so hard and so long. I just loved this piece and i’m hoping you find a lot of joy in being with the children in person again. We’ve been doing it since September and it gets easier to adjust to masks and distance….it is good to be together even if we sit six feet apart.

    Liked by 1 person

    • In the eighteen years I’ve lived in this house, I’ve not seen bluebirds so close. They seem special – my word for the year is “awe” which is exactly what I felt on the first sighting, and on realizing they have obviously taken up residence! Seeing them fills my heart with such cheer. Thank you for your encouraging words about the adjusting becoming easier, Kathleen. Children absolutely impart joy – like the bluebirds.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Valentine bluebirds, surely this is a sign of spring coming, Fran. The vintage card caught my eye immediately. I have many in my ephemera collection but not a Valentine with bluebirds. The rain is incessant for you like the snow is to me. Rain like tear-streaks of the wind is a beautiful simile. Before I forget, Happiness always to your husband on the anniversary of his ordination. (I just had a flashback to the Bishop’s Wife movie with Cary Grant) I so reread your PF post and poem. Absoluturely lovely!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Many thanks for the anniversary wishes, Carol; I am smiling at your flashback! I love vintage cards and was so excited to find this Valentine with bluebirds on it for the post. I so appreciate all of your words.

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  6. So many wonderful images here. (I was especially drawn to the pine trees.) Your longing and then joy at seeing the pair of bluebirds was almost tangible! May they continue to lead you through the grey.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Ahhh…the eastern bluebird. I’d always had an affinity for them, as they were my state (Missouri) bird growing up, and I was also a “bluebird,” which was a different sort of scouting organization. Strange thing is, I never, never, NEVER saw one growing up. In fact, my very first encounter with a bluebird was living in Virginia after getting married. And, I’m going to say it. Yes. YES, you DO deserve such bounty.

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