It had only been a few weeks of lockdown when my birthday rolled around. But the gift my husband got me did—and still does—feel symbolic of the times: a birdhouse. Taking in the world through our windows, we found a new thrill at spotting the birds in the overgrown trees of our Brooklyn backyard. We propped the sweet little birdhouse on our balcony, filled it with seed and waited for our springtime friends to come say hi.
Of course, the birds never quite flocked to the birdhouse for whatever reason—maybe the feed was wrong or the hole too small for the birds of our region. Since they weren’t coming to us, we invested in a pair of birdwatching binoculars and a National Geographic field guide to the birds of North America. We’d spot couplings of mourning doves, the brightest red cardinal and his demure mate, blue jays swooping through the manmade jungle in a flirtatious dance, sparrows building a nest twig by twig. It became a pastime.
And then, the birds left for the winter, which is really only something we noticed once they showed up again, and we were so delighted to see a cardinal perched on the railing that we paused mid-argument to look at it: “Shhh! Look!”