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?
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.