I grew up in the bona fide country (various neighbors had chickens and horses, and it was a 3 mile bike ride to the corner store), so when I hear my city-boy husband and his various relatives describe our neighborhood as the country, I can only laugh. It's as city-suburb as they go, with houses plunked side by side along winding streets that are filled with cars at night.
But he argues that the various bits of nature that grace our existence make it true country. There are neighborhood rabbits, for example, who are bold during the summer, dancing around the pool while we swim and munching on my rosemary. He thinks they've gone off to Bunny Florida for the winter, but my nocturnal vampire eyes catch them here, a lot. It's especially fun to see them racing aross the snow in pairs, or waiting in the grass for me to get home from work, their eyes big and blinking.
We also have a mixed and colorful flock of birds who come to call. I am convinced they are tiny messengers from God. When they flit in the little trees in front of my home office, it's a sign to breathe and watch the small details. And others, I'm certain, are the souls of those I used to know. I know, it sounds wacky.
But consider this: after my beloved professor died in Ohio, the most enormous, glorious red cardinal came to visit on the day of his funeral, actually landing in my window boxes and tapping on the window, singing and staring at me intently. He's returned just once--on the day my best friend in the world was diagnosed with something awful. I didn't know that day--but the red bird did. Now, I'm grateful for his distance--he stays in the trees, perhaps six feet out, calling to his partner, who is inevitably nearby.
And most recently, when's J's friend Lisa finally lost her battle with lung cancer at 51, a fat brown and grey bird I had never seen before came to the box as I put on my face and prepared myself for work a couple of mornings later. It followed me out to my car, bouncing and chirping, not afraid to come within 2 feet of my dangerous self. "Hello Lisa," I finally said to the bird. I swear it did somersaults.