Life as I know It

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San Luis Obispo, California, and South Bristol, Maine, United States
Author ~ Illustrator ~ Lecturer

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Make Me a Promise??



I worked out in the garden this morning and felt so contented. All around me (and believe me, I don't live in the country this time of year) birds chittered, whistled, and called.

A sweet hermit thrush (one of my favorite birds) landed on the birdbath that once belonged to my Nonie Clarke (my mom's mother). The thrush held a brilliant red cotoneaster berry in his bill, and he gobbled it down and took a sip of water. A robin walked across our postage-stamp lawn, head cocked toward the ground and chuckling like a madman. Nearby, where the toyon hangs over my terrace, about 30 cedar waxwings keened and whistled as they gorged themselves on berries.

Paradise, that's how I felt. I am in Paradise. Then I stopped to consider what was happening around me. Most often, before looking up, I KNEW which birds were stopping for a visit. Through years of quiet observation, I've learned dozens of bird calls, but that is a drop-in-the-bucket compared to hard core birders.

To help Grannys and other child lovers learn about bird calls, I did a spread in my new book Toad Cottages & Shooting Stars and entitled it "BIRD WORDS." You'll get the drift when you look closely at the illustrations. I've also included many other hints to help you make the birds welcome in your garden and in your life.



So will you make me a promise? No matter where you live, no matter the season or the time of the day or night, stop, listen, and enjoy every second with the birds.


27 comments:

Joan said...

"...head cocked toward the ground and chuckling like a madman."
What a fabulous way to describe a foraging robin!
Paradise, indeed.

country girl said...

Sharon, this post speaks directly to my heart, because I have always felt very akin to little bird folk. I remember reading in Autobiography of a Yogi about a saint who was able to communicate with the birds, and they trusted him so much that they would sit in his hand. And I wished with all my being that this was the case with me!
There is an elderly gentleman who sometimes crosses my path while I am out walking with Kiki; he walks very slowly down the forest paths holding up a tape recorder, recording all the bird talk, as you have named it. And this is a comforting sight ...to know there are other people out there who appreciate and adore these winged creatures as much as I do.
I can't wait to have your book in my home...and yes, I promise.

Protege said...

Delightful post.
I love birds and I love to hear them sing, of course (now) here in winter they are very quiet. But comes the spring equinox and the return of the sun and light, their songs and performance is so very palpable shortly before sunrise...
The most beautiful singing bird around here is the lark. Its song is so very significant of Scandinavian summers.

The book you mention here must be lovely.

xo
Zuzana

FlowerLady said...

Bird song and chattering are always a welcome sound, well except for the dang blue jays when they get riled up. :-) Even then, they are letting us know something is invading their space so I usually look around to see if I can spot the invader. Our state bird is the mockingbird and I just love their song. Lately I've been hearing the little chirp of the finches.

Birds are a wonderful, beautiful part of creation.

Thanks for your post this morning. I will listen for the birds today as I go about my outdoor projects.

Have a lovely day ~ FlowerLady

Pequete said...

I love your translation of bird words - it reminds me of some popular names people in the countryside give to birds here in Portugal. Some of the really translate the sound of their calls.
This page of your book is lovely too, I'm sure it will be a success.

Mozart's Girl said...

Darling Sharon, I promis I promise, I do I do!! We even had a radio station here for a while called @birdsong' that just played a loop of British summer birds singing...nothing else! I used to play it most nights, never got tired of it. My favourite thing is to wake in the night in Summer & hear the blackbird carolling his heart out in the churchyard below - but I love them all, crows & rooks included! What a lovely book too. Will definitely be ordering a copy xox Rachel

Mozart's Girl said...

You have won my award too....but of course you only need to do all the things once! Just wanted you to know! xox

Scattering Lupines said...

Ah, yes! It's a promise! I hope one day I know which birds are around me just by listening...

comfrey cottages said...

i promise sharon! sorry not to have popped on here ealier after we first "met". you know how it is when wee ones are with you:)
we have your new book ordered and can't wait to have it in our hands! yes, yes, yes to paradise:) wherever there is birdsong! we have a good birdbook that is arranged by color that the kids and i use. when we see one we happily write on the page the when and who saw first and slip pictures we take of different birds and fledglings in our photo albums:) love love love your work and can't wait for this new book:)
after my library to get it also:) i participate in a library lapsit with my almost two year old dylan and can't wait to share with the group of other grandma's:) big herbal and honey hugs to you:)

lemonverbenalady said...

The Herbal Husband whistles so well, Sharon, I think he is one of the birds and he can also call all of them too. Special guy! We love our birds at our house!

Johanna said...

We live in Ontario, Canada and this is our first year in our house (before my hubby and I lived in a smaal apartment- no balcony) Now that we have a backyard we make sure to keep a bird feeder full! The types of birds we see are Blue Jays, Cardinals, Mourning Doves, Crows, Chickadees and these little everyday brown birds- don't know what they are called but they are very cute.

...... Bobbi said...

I love listening to the birds in my garden. Even during this spell of 20 degree weather, I can still heard birds in the middle of the afternoon. I can't wait to read your newest book!

rebecca Sweet said...

As I write this, I'm listening to my canaries which live outside of my bedroom window, in a wonderful aviary my husband built for me. They wake me up each morning with their singing and I can't imagine a better alarm clock in the whole world! Across from them are 2 birdfeeders which are always a morning 'meeting spot' for some of the same birds you've mentioned...adding to my delight. I love, love, love birds and look forward to reading your bird 'translations' in your new book!

Sharon Lovejoy said...

I awoke this morning to a basket full of well wishes and a handful of wonderful e-mails. THANK YOU ALL!

In answer to Dawn of May all Seasons Be Sweet to Thee-that gentleman who "spoke" to (or with) the birds is St. Francis of Assisi. Jeff and I journeyed there for my birthday this past September. We also found the little town where the birds spoke with him.

I love your story of the elderly gentleman recording the bird conversations.

Dawn, my new book is said to be for grandmothers, but it is NOT just for grands. It is for anyone who loves children.

Did you know that our dear Sue wrote one of the back cover comments? She was the first person other than Jeff to see the entire book.

Love, love,

Sharon

The Artful Parent said...

Wonderful! I can't wait for your new book, Sharon!

country girl said...

Sharon, it's me who is welling up now after having read your note on my blog...thank you for sharing that story with me, and for warming my heart with your compliments. I can only say that I am so very humbled, and that you make me want to strive to be as great as you see me.
You are a very precious person, and I hope I am lucky enough to call you my friend for a long long time.
love, Dawn
p.s. one day you will have to tell me all about shelburne farms! and one day we will have to meet there.

myfrenchkitchen said...

Oh, what a lovely entry to your blog...looking out to nature through your window!
I've browsed here through your little corner and love each nook you show and write about. You are in love with your world and I love seeing that!
Ronelle

MARY said...

Birds have always brought me great joy and a world without them would be a lonely place. My special bird is the Carolina Wren who is full of curiosity and I've had them hop through the back door which was left ajar for the dog. I live in the South so we are privileged to hear the birds songs all year. Another special treat for us is the migrating of the Sandhill Cranes who fly over by the hundreds with their haunting call. God gives us so much beauty to enjoy if we are silent and listen to the birds and to His voice.

Mary

Pequete said...

I've just written a post where I speak about you and your book. I should have asked first, I hope you don't mind...

suna said...

i forget to listen in winter. thanks for the reminder.

Storybook Woods said...

It has been pouring rain for daysssss, hard, so we are not out enjoying nature much. But the rain will easy up, someday ;-0 Chloe loves anything about birds, I am sure she will adore your book. Can not wait xoxoxox Clarice

Nan said...

The minute I become a grandmother, this is the first book I'll buy! (not on the horizon yet, though) I find that often there are more birds in town than in the country right around one's house. Maybe because there is so much 'other' land that they don't need the trees and bushes near a house? But this time of year is sweet because they all hang out at the sunflower seeds and suet diner!

Dee/reddirtramblings said...

Sharon, I can't wait to read your new book. I, too, have learned so many bird calls just from them coming to the feeders and being nearby as I work outside. This year I've seen a lot of goldfinches outside my window. They land on the shrubs near the feeder and wait their turn to feast on the Nyjer seeds. I feel lucky to be out with them, but when it snowed so hard here, I was glad they had a place to come in under the eaves to eat and rest. Love the pictures.~~Dee

lemonverbenalady said...

Sharon, When are you going to be at Kathleen Gips' shop? I was commenting on Comfrey Cottages site and I read your comment for Leslie. I can drive there. I'm about 2 hours east of her shop. I used to go once a month. I don't get there often any more, but if you are there, hopefully, we can meet!

La Table De Nana said...

I must have read so many of your articles:) I am happy to have found you and will peruse this weekend~

House Mother said...

I promise! I think I'm in a good place to start 'birding' with my children -- Ireland. Lots of birds in the garden and most are easy to identify by sight. Thanks for the inspiration to close our eyes and listen...

jodi (bloomingwriter) said...

Hi from a longtime fan in Nova Scotia, Sharon. I just won a copy of your new book through Dee at Red Dirt Ramblings, and it arrived this week, though I've just skimmed it so far; work is very demanding right now.
As to birds...we live in a rural part of the province, and have bird feeders all around our immediate yard, and seven acres of pasture, pond, woodland and garden which is dedicated to wildlife, including birds. I wake to various birds every morning, and they provide us so much joy, well worth what we spend in suet and seeds, feeders and fruit and so on. No days without birdsong, ever.