105. Feathered Friends

105.  Feathered Friends

The granary was about 200 feet north of the shop, and was a small white rectangular building with blue trim.  Inside were wooden bins suitable for wheat, oats, and mice.  In the facing above the heavy sliding door, there were rows of “decorative” pigeonholes forming a pyramid, with boxes behind the siding built to accommodate nests.  Why Grandpa wanted birds there, I do not know.  But one of my boyhood memories is waking in the early hours of the morning, all cozy in bed, and hearing the cooing and calling of the mourning doves at the granary.

 

THE MOURNING DOVE

Good morning, mourning dove
I hear you cooing up above.
Are you calling to your love?
“Wake up, it’s morning, mourning dove.”

I hear you coo at break of day,
And, when the daylight fades away.
Your happy cooing at first light,
Turns to mourn the coming night.

Just like me you greet the sun,
Then coo to mourn when day is done.
To greet the light from God above
“The light of life,” coos mourning dove.

 

                                               BIRDS

Mom loved birds!  Bird feeders lined the wall of the house outside the kitchen window, and a slab of suet was always nailed to the willow tree where the branch had been cut off, and we could see the birds come.  Every spring, two large apartment-style houses were raised on big posts in the yard for the purple martins.  Each house would accommodate eighteen families of martins.  Wren houses were hung under the porch and in the maple trees.  If there was a “bird grapevine,” the word would be that Mom’s Place, just up the hill and north of the apple orchard, was a great summer place with lots to eat!

Each spring, the yard was alive with the music and activity of birds.  The robins and martins and wrens arrived and started building nests.  We listened for the oriole that built a nest high in the trees.  Red-winged blackbirds flocked to the pond, and later to the mulberry tree.  Redheaded woodpeckers came to work on the suet, and to “knock” on the willow tree for bugs.  A pair of cardinals would “stake out” their territory in the yard.

Mom watched out the kitchen window hoping the bluebird would like her newly painted house perched on a pole near the lily pool.  Sparrows, who were year ‘round residents living in the barn, chattered constantly, as if annoyed by the summer competition.

 

IN THE DAWN’S EARLY LIGHT

The sun is up; it’s time to sing.
The herald birds announce, “It’s spring!”
The break of day begins the dawn,
And all the birds burst into song.

Chirps and whistles pierce the air.
Birds are singing everywhere!
Twitter, tweety, chirp, and peep.
I love the birds, but I’d rather sleep!

104. The Bumblebee and Me

104.  The Bumblebee And Me

On a warm summer day, I was standing inside the open shop door, directly over a knothole in a floor plank.  That I was wearing shorts suddenly became significant when a big bumblebee “floated” in the door and stopped about six inches from my bare leg — hovering.  I froze, as I had been taught to do when confronted by a potentially dangerous wild thing.  As I watched the bee, Mom appeared at the door, took in the scene, and yelled, “Bobby! Jump!  Get out of there!  You’re in his way!”

I jumped!  I think I may have broken the record for standing broad jump from a motionless position, because I landed way outside the shop door, where Mom grabbed my hand, and we ran as fast as we could for the house.  To our relief, the bee stayed behind.

When we caught our breath, Mom explained that bumblebees couldn’t see very well, so they fly in familiar routes they have established, and I was blocking his way into the knothole, which Daddy thought was the entrance to the bee’s nest.  The danger was that if the bee became confused, or decided I was a threat to the nest, he might attack.  Bumblebees, unlike honeybees, can sting many times, so it is best to “leave the bumblebee be.”

BUMBLEBEE DREAM

The bumblebee is not that bright,
His wings are much too small for flight.
Because he doesn’t know he can’t,
He flies all day from flower to plant.

Dare to dream what you’d like to do.
You can make your dreams come true.
Just like the bee; go ahead, believe.
Believe your dream, and you’ll achieve.

 

103. Grandpa’s Shop

103.  Grandpa’s Shop

The branches of the maple tree behind the house reached almost to Grandpa’s big one-room shop.   In the center of Grandpa’s shop was a big workbench with a large steel vise.  A wooden chest on the left held Grandpa’s wood working tools.  Many of the tools were made of wood and were real antiques from the nineteenth century.  Tools and parts of tools hung on the walls.

Cobwebs and spider webs decorated the corners and around the windows where no one could reach, or cared to reach.  There were garden tools, lawn mowers, boxes, apple crates and baskets, and chests, and machine parts and piles of miscellaneous stuff left from another generation.

A wooden ladder with one step broken led to a loft where parts from ancient farm machinery were waiting for a boy to discover them.

In a corner of Grandpa’s big shop I uncovered an old Victrola cabinet covered with dust and cobwebs.  When I lifted the heavy cover and peaked inside, I saw a red vinyl record.  There were more records in the bottom part, both black and red.  Most of them were broken or cracked, but some…Hmmm?

I cranked the handle on the side and felt the spring tighten.  A touch of the lever by the turntable set it turning.  Wow!  It still works!  I carefully set the needle arm down on the turning record, and a rhythmic scratchy noise was soon replaced by a male voice singing:

“What does a bumblebee do do do,
What does a bumblebee do?
A bumblebee goes buzz buzz buzz,
But that ain’t all he does does does,
So, let the bumblebee be ee ee,
I’m gonna let the bumblebee be.”