A little bird brightened my day today.
The bird recognized me out of more than a hundred people sitting at tables eating breakfast.
I had not noticed until after I had gotten my free breakfast, sat down and began munching a half of a piece of bacon. I chewed and chewed and methodically relished the taste with my eyes closed and my mind “forced” to stay “in the moment.”
I felt calm and “in tune” as I glanced up, feeling that I had just been watched, was still being observed, being singled out.
It turns out, I was!
The “Banner Bird” gazed at me from a window sill some six feet up the floor and some 15 feet away from me. The critter’s back and tail faced the large window overlooking the entrance to IKEA here in Conshohocken, PA, while its head, beak and breast jutted forward as if it had been patiently waiting for me to greet this rather ordinary-looking bird with a treat.
I had fed “him” before. (I know, I know. I have no way of telling its sex, but as I said before, this is my post, my narrow “view” of reality). Along with a great, inexpensive breakfast of bacon (or sausage), scrambled eggs and hash browns (coffee free from 9:30 to 10 am) for only 99 cents, IKEA offers free crackers, two per small package. I feed this bird regularly, walking up to the nearly 20-foot tall wall of windows (three window panes per six foot length, with a total floor length of some 200 feet) and surreptitiously reaching to the lowest window-pane, spreading pre-crushed crackers on the pane as I look down to the ground nearly four-stories below pretending that I am enjoying the view, but secretly nourishing this creature.
I nicknamed him “Banner Bird” because he would fly from the top of one banner to another, soaring — with what appeared to be a lot of grace and ease — the length of this 300-person seating capacity room. The “regulars,” the 20 odd people (no, none of us are really odd!) who eat breakfast here during the week (I try to get there two to three times a week), say the bird adds “atmosphere” to the store. We think there is only one. but when he chirps, sometimes it sounds more like a bevy of birds. When a customer finishes eating a meal, IKEA workers clean up immediately, and, I guess, remove and sanitize areas where any droppings might have fallen.
How did this bird know me from all the other hundred of men, women and children who appeared there today? (Breakfast was free. IKEA provides a promotion once a month offering free 99 cents breakfasts, and have had up to 400 people partake, with many remaining at the store browsing and buying items, according to Missy, one of the cashiers here. [She bakes cakes and if you are reading this locally you can check out her website at Missy’s Cakes and Bakes]). I would have thought that we humans “all look alike” to a creature outside of our species. How could some life-form whose fellow creatures have been denigrated by us with the tag of having a “bird brain” know me from Adam?
Yet, he did. And it filled me with joy after I placed the crackers on the sill, returned to my seat and watched as he flew from way up high, where he must have watched my progress, and landed right where I had only recently stood. A couple at a table closer to the window took notice of the bird. So did a man sitting alone at a table across from me and further away from the bird.
The sparrow (I’m no Audubon, but I think the bird was part of this lineage) pecked at the pieces of cracker, clutching with its beak a chunk almost as large as his head, and flew off toward the hanging and open “ceiling” above. The woman closest to the bird smiled in his direction, but the single man laughed in what could only have been amazement as the bird must have touched that child, that little boy inside of him.
“What a great way to start a day,” I said to this stranger who shared with me this wonderful moment. He nodded, grinning from ear to ear, clearly having been touched by nature inside the concrete and metal store.
The woman, who was eating with a man I assumed to be her husband, turned toward me and said: “I like to feed them; I like to look at them.”
“I just don’t like them getting too close to me.”
I acknowledged her comment, but felt saddened, a little deflated.
Isn’t this what many of us do in our lives? Not let a thing of beauty get too close, too familiar with us, where and when it could possibly demand too much of us, our precious selves?
The sun can only brighten us when we open the shutters to the Light. — new Greek saying.