Treena Mielke

Treena Mielke

Family: Try bird watching this winter

January has descended upon us with a whole lot of white fury.

I have lived in Alberta almost all of my life, being born during a February snowstorm in the Eckville Hospital, which was a kind of prestigious thing or so I’ve been told.

I was the first one in my family to be born in a hospital so, if I say so myself, I was a pretty big deal.

I have no idea what the temperature was back then, during the year of my birth, but I would wager a bet it was below zero. I am quite sure there were huge snowbanks around the skating rink and there was plenty of coal burned in those coal and wood stoves used to heat most homes.

After all, it was Alberta and it was winter. So, this cold snap that we have been having recently should not be such a huge surprise.

It is Alberta and it is winter.

But even me, Alberta born and raised, was more than a little shocked when I rose from a long winter’s nap the other day and looked at the thermometer.

It registered an unbelievable -33 C, causing me to rub my very near-sighted eyes and reach for my glasses.

And so, I uttered an unprintable word, or maybe more than one actually, and poured myself a cup of java and proceeded to sit and stare out the kitchen window at, well….at nothing really.

Yes, it is winter. It is cold, and it is January.

With that reality staring me in the face I realized I would have to dig deep into my very soul to even begin to manifest some kind of grateful list.

But anyway, as I continued to stare out the window, I realized that there was a lot more than nothing going on out there.

There was the sun coming up and colouring the sky with brilliant gold and orange crayons. And there was the gentle sweep of the evergreens, tall and stately, their branches dusted with snow. “You never know an evergreen is an evergreen until the winter,” I muse.

I read that somewhere. It is definitely not my saying, but I like it. I like it a lot.

And then there was the birds.

And so, in spite of myself I found myself watching these little winged creatures with something akin to fascination as they unceremoniously hovered around the bird feeder. Watching the birds made me feel slightly guilty. They were hungry and the food in their bird feeder was scant. Very scant.

“Sorry birds,” I muttered, just like they could hear me and be forgiving. “I meant to fill your bird feeder, but somehow didn’t. So cold. So very, very cold.”

We are, I have to say, most fortunate to have all kinds of birds visit our bird feeder. There are chickadees and flickers and pileated woodpeckers and the other kind of woodpecker whose name I cannot remember. And there are sparrows and, of course, magpies and Bluejays.

And, if the truth be known, it is most pleasurable watching those birds.

I have no idea why.

But, for some reason just being a silent observer is most satisfying and quite delightful, actually.

It is not like watching a hockey game, especially when your grandson has a break-a-way and takes off down the ice like a speeding bullet (albeit a slow speeding bullet), but, nonetheless, you get the picture.

And it is not like watching a movie, which I do regularly. I love movies. Well, actually I love the idea of watching a movie because the chances of me staying awake through an entire movie are slim to nil.

No. Watching birds is none of those things.

But it is good. It just is. I am not sure why.

But I would definitely recommend it.

Try it. You never know. You might like it, too.

Treena Mielke is a Central Alberta writer. She lives in Sylvan Lake with her family.