Posted by: poet kate hutchinson | May 28, 2012

In Praise of Sparrows

I just love the merry band of house sparrows that fills my patio and bushes each morning with their hops and cheeps.  Sure, they’re not the rockstar cardinals or flashy redwing blackbirds or those cute, sunny goldfinches.  But the unassuming sparrows have endeared themselves to me over the years as the steadfast inhabitants of my property, and I’m finding there is no sound more soothing or calming to me as their chatter.  This week I also got to witness their chick-feeding on my patio, the babies shaking their little wings in a fierce effort for Mom’s and Dad’s attention — to get a seed plopped into their beaks.

It’s hard not to leap to human analogies here — sparrows as the 99%, maybe — or in my case, sparrows as those well-adjusted students who fill our classrooms.  Unlike the handful of brilliant kids who always have their hands up (like the bright red cardinals), or the rebels and clowns who throw the class off-task with their antics (think of squawking bluejays), or the poor, lost souls who can’t seem to get the hang of much (picture aimless, hopping robins who seem dazed and confused all day long) — the majority of our students are cheerful and cooperative, helpful in groups, happy to earn a B or C+, and generally pleasant to spend time with each day.

The colorful birds grab our attention and often fill us with a level of awe —  like the gorgeous Baltimore Oriole I saw this morning high in an elm tree, warbling his little heart out.  That orangy-yellow guy is rare in Northern Illinois, and we only get to see him in May and June as the orioles pass through on their way to some place else.  But all in all, I’d rather have a yard full of the tawny little sparrows.  They’re hardy enough to make it through the winter with us, sounding just as chipper and happy when it’s 20 degrees out as in the height of summer.  There’s something zen-like and admirable about that.

First light of summer’s dawn

The sparrows’ joyous chirping

Welcomes me back to life


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