It’s For the Birds…

Linking up on Monday with L.L. Barkat at Seedlings in Stone 
who encourages her contributors to write with a sense of place…
On In Around button
To live in Santa Barbara is a gift.  
Every single day, I am grateful for that gift,
 in ways too numerous to count.
A sliver of fertile land, following the crooked coastline of the north American coastline for about 30 miles or so,
laid out like a sparkling emerald baguette, mountains rising on the northern edge and the great Pacific stretched like a silver blue necklace on the south.
As I said, it’s a gift to be here.

To live within 15 minutes of one of our children 
and his family is also a gift – and a privilege as well.
Both my son and his wife are physicians on the central coast and it has been my joy (and now my husband’s as well) to care for each of their two remarkable daughters during the years preceding pre-school. Their mama works half-time, so we are now keeping 14-month-old Lilly two days each week – 
and loving it a lot.
The newly-trimmed podocarpus tree just outside our bedroom door.
One of the things we love about living here is the rich variety of bird-life that shares this space with us.  From tiny finches with their lime or peach coloring to the great blue herons that occasionally fly overhead, there are lots of birds nearby – 
all kinds, sizes, shapes and sounds.

Notorious loud-mouths are the scrub blue-jays who are ubiquitous in southern California.  We’ve got several who hang out at our place – and my husband has managed to begin an interesting relationship with a couple of them.
Some of the bird-attracting paraphernalia hanging from that podocarpus.
About the time he retired, 
my husband the gifted investment-advisor, 
became Poppy Doolittle – 
charming our jays with a simple act of bribery:
peanuts, unsalted, in the shell.
He began by standing in the middle of our back lawn or on the patio and clucking/talking to them.
“Here’s something good – wanna try it?”
And he’d put the peanut down on the ground or the table.
Slowly, he began to hang onto those nuts,
 until he had one in the palm of his hand.
And to everyone’s surprise and delight, they went for it.
One jay in particular is brazen and fearless, 
answering the call almost any time. 
His smaller, more nervous compatriot will come if Dick is alone 
in the yard, but not when we have guests.
Poppy and Lilly right after her nap.
So, he’s been teaching Lilly about this,
showing her how it’s done.
And she LOVES it.
On Wednesday of last week, she woke up from her nap, 
bed-head, sleepy eyes and all, 
and began looking out the bedroom door 
towards the yard.  
Stretching out her hand as Poppy has taught her to do, 
she began to make clucking noises.
And Poppy came running!
Out they went, to see if the jays were around.
Bold Jay showed up right away,
 and grabbed that nut in a split second.  
Lilly was still pretty sleepy 
and couldn’t quite get her hand around a second one.
Bold Jay sits in the tree, guarding his treasure.
This day, he chose to keep the nut with him,
more often than not, 
he buries it in our lawn,
pounding it down in the ground 
with a berry from the tree.
So they tried a second time.
Lilly has not quite mastered the concept 
of opening her hand with the nut in it – 
she tends to pick it up and grab hold tightly – 
so Poppy is still the primary gift-giver in this routine.
Shy Jay was having nothing to do with it.
Bold Jay had flown across the yard to the very top of the utility pole between us and our neighbors to the south, 
so our fearless duo moved a little closer to him, 
and out into the sunshine where the prize 
would gleam a little more clearly.
And down he swooped – all the way across that yard.
Poppy agreed to give the guy one last shot as a special prize
for his awesome aim,
 and I managed to get a picture of his feet 
as they landed on Poppy’s finger 
while he grabbed his final reward 
(for the day, at least!)
Wish you could have been here to see him – 
and to see Lilly enjoying the spectacle.
But most of all, I wish you could see how this granddaddy loves his little ones – 
the ones that fly, 
and the one whose smile makes our entire week.

Also sharing this week with Laura at The Wellspring and her lovely meme:  “Playdates with God.”

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  1. This is just the sweetest thing! The look on little Lilly’s face is priceless as her Poppy feeds that bold blue jay! I have never heard of this happening before. I think your man must have a special touch. So glad you linked up with Playdates today!

  2. Oh my goodness. I love this. Love, love, love it!!

  3. This is so precious! Love this. What a sweet granddad– and grandma!

    Your location sounds gorgeous, how inspiring it must be to live around such physical beauty– and it sounds like you do appreciate it! Being married so long too (45 years!)– wonderful, congratulations. You are blessed in many ways, dear sister.

  4. Your granddaughter is beautiful with an angelic softness about her. And those photos of the blue jay are amazing!
    Wow! Taming a wild blue jay. They do get bold at times–especially when you’re camping in California. While preparing for breakfast, we place wrapped sweet rolls on the table and they pecked through!

    Thanks for the fun.


  5. Thank you for sharing this. What a moment.

  6. Thank you all for your kind words here. It is amazing when wild creatures interact with us humans! And Sandy, I was pretty sure you would appreciate this little story – we love birds here, too. Janis – beware of all seagulls as well if you ever come to CA to camp again. I left a deli sandwich, wrapped in paper, inside a brown bag on my blanket at the beach once to go into the water for 10 minutes. When I came back the bulls had dragged it out of the bag, opened the paper and devoured all but the crusts. Good grief!