These are the days when birds come back,
A very few, a bird or two,
To take a backward look.

To win the fight with the squirrels, a few years ago I gave up using sunflower seed to feed the birds and began giving them safflower instead. The squirrels have no use for safflower whatsoever.

These are the days when skies put on
the old, old sophistries of June,–
A blue and gold mistake.

Last year, I decided to reinstate the sunflower seed feeder — so many more birds love that treat — and believed I’d hung it where the squirrels couldn’t reach. More fool me! They wrecked two that were supposedly “squirrel-proof” and became so defiant that even when I smacked one on the bottom with my pond-cleaning net, it stared at me scornfully and went on eating, upside down.

Oh, fraud that cannot cheat the bee,
Almost thy plausibility
Induces my belief,

Till ranks of seeds their witness bear,
And softly through the altered air
Hurries a timid leaf!

My friend Nan told me that squirrels can’t traverse wire. So I strung a line across the yard from the location where last year the little devils had tormented the birds (and me) at the sunflower feeder. Now, of course, they’re hanging out under the feeder, but they can’t get to it! Triumph!

Oh, sacrament of summer days,
Oh, last communion in the haze,
Permit a child to join,

The first “customer,” as my husband calls them, to visit the sunflower seed feeder hanging on the wire was a chickadee. Brave and bright little souls they are.

Thy sacred emblems to partake,
Thy consecrated bread to break,
Taste thine immortal wine!

─Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)

All the feeders are full now — the sunflower, the safflower and the nyger sock — waiting. And slowly, slowly the birds are returning. Right now, the male house finches dominate. wearing their bright red mating plumage. Their song is heavenly.

Created with Nokia Smart Cam

Addendum: Thirty-five years ago, the last time I saw my father, he planted daffodils for me. They’ve lasted, yet over the years they’ve faded and fewer and fewer have appeared, until last year there was only one blossom. For some reason, this year, they’ve rallied and even produced a new little group out of sight of this picture. Thank you, papa.