Skip to content

a bird in the hand…and hope

I had the feeling I was running behind in life…Do you ever? As if life were meant to progress by a schedule – like an efficiently-run German passenger train (which of course, we all know, it is not) and here I was, about to miss it.

Wasn’t it Lewis Carroll who said, “The hurrier I go, the behinder I get?” Was it the rabbit in Alice in Wonderland? Or was it me? Certainly it was me.

The other day I was feeling as though, no matter how long I might live, I could never catch up.

{ O woe is me, my name is Pity! }


It might have made some sense had I asked, “But dear, exactly what is it you’re trying to catch up with or to?”  But of course, when you’re in “that mood” (meaning the complete absence of all good sense) you don’t ask such questions.

Sometimes though, in a life of grace (which is the life we all live, whether we know it or not) something happens. Something flies through the window to break the spell – the hex – we’re under, and set us right again.

The other day, I found myself in such a state of mind. And then…

Through the open doors of summer, a chartreuse vireo flew into our house. She was fluttering against the windows, seeing beyond them to the sky and trees, and trying desperately to find her way out again. Slowly I took my hand to her. To my surprise, she allowed me to lift her, fully enveloping her trembling tiny body between my two hands. She weighed little more than air. I walked with her back outside, then lifted my top hand. There she was, eyes wide. I expected her to fly. Straight away. But she didn’t.  Instead, she stayed.

She stayed and stayed as I walked with her, carrying her from place to place, in search of that spot where she might feel free again to fly.  Instead though, her tiny gray feet clutched tight to me as I spoke softly to her that it was safe to leave now. She closed her eyes and took long rests…opened her eyes and looked around…and then closed them again. Here she rested. And rested.

And so did I.

’twas perfect peace to me.

 My husband and I watched, relieved as finally she flew, un-hurt.

And in that, All things were made right again.

~ ~ ~

There is a fellow-blogger I’ve grown especially fond of – Shira – her blog In Pursuit of More …Living with {just a little} Less will be so worth your time to check out, if you haven’t yet met her. She has a generous and gracious heart. She puts wonderful, healthful food on the table, and gives us words of wisdom to grow on.

Before leaving for a family trip to France recently, she was asked to say a few things about

H O P E .

I think you’ll want to read what Shira had to say … (and, while you’re at it, would you please check out the fresh coconut pulp & chocolate torte with fresh raspberries spilling all over it? As if you could possibly miss such a thing!!)

Anyway, Shira asked several others to comment on the subject, and because it was she who asked, I couldn’t say no.

~ ~ ~

So…in my humble opinion…sometimes knowing precious little…here are a couple of my thoughts on HOPE … though in all honesty, the vireo pretty much told me what to write.

~ ~ ~

Hope is something seemingly unique to humans…for humans flit quite easily between past, present & future…seldom able to land any which place for long

Hope casts its eyes only on the future

Hope is an image held onto of a thing or circumstance or a one that we want

Hope floats

Hope flies

Hope flutters

& even, sometimes, Hope dies

For though Hope can be tenacious and fierce

Hope can also be tender, tentative, fragile

As humans, where it comes to hope, our words and gestures matter. However small and insignificant we think they are, they have within them the power to lift another…to offer gentle rest and certain safety in times of need…to offer whispers or songs of encouragement…to hold firmly to the belief that we were all, each and every one, meant to fly.

we, little humble humans, can Hope,

and so we do.

~  ~  ~

In the interest of keeping the topic alive, and because this IS a relay, I’m passing the baton to a few others whose thoughts and perspectives I have so come to respect –  I hope they’ll share …

Ashley of Draw Near, Barb/Smidge of Just a Smidgen, Claire of Promenade Plantings, Kathryn of Kiwsparks, Chicago John from The Bartolini Kitchens and Sawsan of Chef in Disguise

I’ve tagged one more than “necessary” just in case one of them finds their time is too full for relays & races just now. Who among us wouldn’t understand that?

~ ~ ~

Today it’s words only here, no recipe. But tomorrow, just like clockwork, it’s Wegetable Vednesday again!


39 Comments Post a comment
  1. Wonderful post!

    September 4, 2012
    • Thank you so much, Michelle! : >

      September 4, 2012
  2. Spree – this is so beautiful! You’ve totally made my day, and touched me with your kind words and beautiful (ever so beautiful) story of the vireo! I’ve my own bird in hand story from childhood that this reminds me of, and what a beautiful and special moment to share with such a gentle peaceful creature 🙂 Your thoughts & words, as usual are an artform – what a wonderful post to read!
    I especially love the quote and thoughts on ‘the hurrier I go, the behinder I get’….I am still enjoying the peaceful benefits of post holiday bliss and finding ways to keep this state for as long as possible – wonderful words today, thank you!! 🙂

    September 4, 2012
    • Well now, Shira, I think you and I could probably just pass back and forth this “making my day” since you’ve now just done that for me! One day you should tell me your story of a bird in hand…I’d so love to hear it! In the meantime, we’ll just keep hoping that those gentle souls will drop into our lives whenever they will (and maybe even when we need it most!) Thanks again for such kind words Shira! : >

      September 4, 2012
  3. This is a beautiful post! Thank you. I’ll go check out shira’s blog. =>

    September 4, 2012
    • I know you’ll like Shira! It would be quite impossible not to. And thank you for the kind words about my post. : >

      September 4, 2012
  4. carolyn #

    This is nutrient-rich food that digests easily. Thank you for the hope!

    September 4, 2012
    • Thanks Carolyn. It felt a bit of an odd post to write. I’m happy you liked!

      September 4, 2012
  5. Don #

    Oh my sister, When you started speaking of, “Hope” in the same breath as the cute little chartreuse vireo you affectionately cradled I couldn’t help but think, “Oh no, I HOPE it doesn’t end the way I ‘m imagining!” (You must remember dear girl, I know you- but more importantly in this exact instance, know of your luck with soft fury little gentle creatures you have cradled and loved so in the past…) I guess that may be enough said there. I’ll just say that I am so glad you were able to offer succor and come away with peace and I’ll leave the punning to you, should you care and close this with a nod to your writing skill and a wink for good measure (;

    September 4, 2012
    • dear brother – thank you so much for that comment! (just between the you and me, it meant the world…feels mighty good to have someone who’s known me well these many years. I’m grateful it’s you.) xo

      September 4, 2012
  6. Mama, I love this story! What a treasure. I so delighted in your take on hope — thank you for expressing the heart of hope in so many of its faces and facets. I especially loved “hope can be tenacious and fierce. Hope can also be tender, tentative, fragile.” Yes and yes! Love you!

    September 4, 2012
    • Ashley, thanks so much for the love! Love back!

      September 5, 2012
  7. musingmar #

    A lovely, lovely post. Wonderful story about the little bird, and moving words about hope. Thank you.

    September 4, 2012
    • Mar, so kind of you to say! Thank YOU!

      September 5, 2012
  8. Very emotional and elevating post, Antoinette. I feel like I’ve just been to church but, for once in my life, got something out of it. I often find myself in the same state that you so clearly describe in your post and it is the little events linked to nature that so often put me back on the rails.

    September 4, 2012
    • Roger – your comment meant a lot to me. There’s comfort for sure in shared experience, and somehow it doesn’t surprise me a bit that nature is frequently where you’ll find yourself again too. Thanks so much for your kind words!

      September 5, 2012
  9. Beautiful words and an inspiring post. I needed that. Thanks

    September 5, 2012
    • You did, Bam? If this touched you, I’m very glad. Thanks so much for leaving such a kind comment! Means a lot!

      September 5, 2012
  10. hi dear, this is really very beautiful !!! very very beautiful !!!

    September 5, 2012
    • I’m so grateful for your sweet comment. True, deep thanks!

      September 5, 2012
      • hi dear, it was really very beautiful !!! would you mind if i invite you to read my blog posts ???looking forward for you.always. love rv.

        September 6, 2012
  11. I have a passion for little birds.. how wonderful that little one chose you, spree.. it knew you would keep it safe! You’ve such a gentle heart for all.. even little lost vireos can sense that:) I loved reading all of your words today.. and feel the need to come back here tomorrow to take more of the meaning in. What a beautiful idea.. to spread “hope” through the sharing of ideas here! I “hope” to join you.. my thoughts are percolating and should be ready in a few days. I loved your metaphor for hope.. indeed you gave the little vireo hope just as she gave you a moment of peace. xx smidge

    September 5, 2012
    • I know about your love of little birds Smidge! (Chickadees! ahhh!) We have about half a dozen bird feeders, 2 bird baths, and a habitat that draws little birds in by the hundreds! We sit on the patio (weather permitting) drinking our coffee or sipping on wine as the birds swoop in and out, calling to each other. It’s not everyone’s “cup of tea” but I’m sure glad the Guinea Pig and I share it! You’d feel right at home here, me thinks, and I’ll probably never quit wishing we were neighbors! 😀 xxoo!

      September 6, 2012
      • I, too, never quit imagining, spree!! I dream of turning our street into a bird sanctuary.. but I have to find a way to drive out the Magpies first!!

        September 6, 2012
  12. Beautiful, beautiful post Spree. I think I just breathed a little deeper and relaxed a little further into my chair.
    Thank you for sharing your wonderful words.

    September 5, 2012
    • Brydie, if this caused you to breathe a little deeper, and relax deeper into your chair (what a beautiful way to put it!) I could not be more happy! xox!

      September 6, 2012
  13. Such a wonderful post, Spree. I’m a firm believer that animals see us as we are, not as we think we are or pretend that we are, but as we are. That little vireo knew s/he would be safe in your hands, trusting you to give sanctuary until s/he was ready to move on. Your use of this story as a means of introducing your thoughts on Hope was masterfully done, Spree. And your description of Hope and the power of words were both enlightening and empowering. Dare to hope!
    Thank you so much for honoring me with the “tag”, Spree. I’m afraid I don’t participate in these any more and, even if I did, your reply was so well written that mine would appear amateurish in comparison. I hope you know that I really do appreciate your thoughtful gesture.

    September 5, 2012
    • John, what kind words! Thank you so much for the lovely compliments! I completely understand about not participating in games of blog tag anymore. No worries at all! (But let me take just a second to be wholey selfish…I’d have loved to hear what you would have to say! 🙂 ) Have a wonderful day John!

      September 6, 2012
      • Kelly Loggan #

        Thank you for your lovely story of God’s love with feathers about your little bird friend! Very touching and meaningful!

        September 24, 2012
  14. Several months ago my cat came up from the basement with a squealing mouthful which I thought at first was a rat that she had caught but which I soon discovered was a starling that had fallen from its nest under the eaves, through the wall and into my basement. The last time I had a nestling in my care, I took it to the Audubon Society in the naive belief that they cared for all birds equally only to find that starlings were less equal than others. Indeed, the only thing that they offered me was to give the little bird a “humane death” through suffocation in a vacuum chamber, an offer which I very reluctantly accepted. I was determined to avoid that outcome this time and so without boring you with the details of the feeding methods and regime I worked out to mimic his mother’s feeding methods in an attempt to keep him alive, that forlorn and bedraggled starling grew and grew and started hopping around his cage and then started testing his wings as well–within a month, he was ready to fly. At first he made only short flights to the tree over my back deck and then would come back to me. Finally, one afternoon, he flew off into the sky and I thought that was it. Next morning however, when I opened the back door and stepped out, there was a very noisy clamor from the filbert tree that stretches over the deck and with a flurry of feathers, down came my little starling, alighting on my arm and then hopping to my shoulder. I walked back inside to get his breakfast from the refrigerator and he flew ahead of me, landing on the refrigerator door as I held it open to retrieve his food. Indeed, we walked through several rooms with him on my shoulder, always in perfect equanimity, before I took him back outside to let him eat. Before he left, he sat on my left hand for some time while I patted his head and stroked his feathers, a practice I had previously instituted with him and which to my surprise, he seemed to like.
    The same routine continued for several weeks, interspersed with episodes where I was in the front yard working in my garden and I would hear an excited bird call and look up to see my friend playing with other birds, darting around and playing tag, but he would leave them and come down to me to be petted and stroked again before flying off to rejoin them. A number of people walking along the sidewalk who witnessed this were–I don’t think it is an exaggeration at all to say–quite astonished. I can’t tell you how privileged I felt that this little bird chose to leave the absolute freedom of the sky to come down to greet me. Alas, after a few more weeks, he disappeared, perhaps having found a mate. I understand that starlings can live for up to 15 years and I hope that he is still out there flying around somewhere, as happy as a bird can be. I wish that I were able to post pictures here to show you the difference in that terrified scrawny little bird when he first came into my life and the sleek, perky bird with iridescent feathers that he became.
    I write this perhaps overly long and tedious post in part because my bird friend left me with a valuable lesson. I would never have imagined such a relationship could happen–he was just “a bird” after all. But after more than 70 years of life, I’ve come to realize that putting either people or animals in categories, is a bad idea. Women, men, Germans, Chinese, Muslims, Jews, Christians, Democrats, Republicans, blacks, whites, dogs, cats, horses, cows, and even birds are all different. They may have some characteristics that validly link them into groups but far more important is their individual differences. I’ve had both relatively ordinary dogs and cats as well as one or two that were truly extraordinary and whom I’ll never forget. I visited my grandmother’s farm in the summertime I came to know animals that people normally think of as having no personality–just “a cow” or just “a pig”–but I saw that they were all individuals with their own awareness and their own particular quirks. Living in Hong Kong and Tokyo for 8 years also taught me that the hordes of people on the street, seemingly so much alike, were all just as different and individualistic as people anywhere.
    I’ve blathered on long enough, perhaps much too long, but my obvious and perhaps simplistic message is simply that every being–animal or human–is an individual and should be treated as such.

    September 6, 2012
    • Joe, this is one of the most remarkable bird stories I’ve ever heard! I wish everyone could read it! I’d be happy to post photos for you if you like…just let me know. You are one beautiful soul, and the starling surely knew it. Thank you so very much for sharing this with us!!!

      September 6, 2012
    • Kelly Loggan #

      Simply a very rich and lovely story! God’s love with feathers!

      September 24, 2012
    • Kelly Loggan #

      Beautiful and touching story Joe.

      September 24, 2012
  15. How lucky to have had this special experience. I too have a bird story, that happened to me in New Zealand. An experience that will never be forgotten and will always be with me. The same will be true for you Spree.

    September 8, 2012
  16. This was a beautiful post Ani!..your words always manage to put a big smile on my face and for that I am truly thankful
    Your story reminded me of my little pet budgie,he sadly was with us for little over a month but I know the feeling of “the connection” you can make to other it human, bird or animal

    I am truly honored you thought of me, it may take a little time but I will do my best to oblige

    September 9, 2012
  17. deb schneider #

    Yours and Joseph’s stories were good for my soul. Love that word, hope 🙂

    September 15, 2012
  18. Kelly Loggan #

    Very nice Ani Spree!!!

    September 24, 2012

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. hope « just a smidgen
  2. The Hurrier I Go | Source of Inspiration

I love to read your words...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: