Steven and I are full of bird wonder.



Our backyard, patio, and window chatter goes something like this:

  • “Look, look! A titmouse!”
  • “What kind of bird is that?”
  • “The hummers are back!”
  • “There’s a woodpecker at the feeder!”
  • “Get the camera! I see a blue bird!”
  • “Those birds that make babbling brook sounds are cowbirds. I looked it up.”
  • “He’s not very gold for a goldfinch!”

One day, however, Steven scrunched his face and asked: “Are we getting old? Why are we so fascinated by birds all of a sudden?”


Red finch



Old? Shudder the thought! I blew off his comment with: “It wasn’t all of a sudden! I’ve always loved birds.” I confess, though: I retreated to quietly chew on the idea.

Why was I chasing the hawk through the arboretum with a camera? Why did I care what kind of LBB (little brown bird) that one was? Why would I stand holding sugar water until it hurt, waiting for a hummingbird to feed from my hand? Why does the titmouse delight me so?

Steven had a point. Bird watching carries the stigma of senioritis. I don’t mean the kind that afflicts 12th graders or college seniors. I mean the stigma of doing senior things. Using canes. Eating crackers for dinner. Filling conversations with the latest on aches and pains. Watching birds through binoculars.

I argued to myself: I don’t feel senior and I’m only in my fifties, so it’s silly to think I chase the hawk because of my age.

Soon after Steven’s ridiculous query, our senior minister included Rachel Carson in his Earth Day homily. My ears perked when he quoted from her 1962 book Silent Spring.

A child’s world is fresh and new and beautiful, full of wonder and excitement. It is our misfortune that for most of us that cleareyed vision, that true instinct for what is beautiful and awe inspiring is dimmed and even lost before we reach adulthood. If I had influence with the good fairy who is supposed to preside over the christening of all children I should ask that her gift to each child in the world be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life, as an unfailing antidote against the boredom and disenchantments of later years, the sterile preoccupation with things that are artificial, the alienation from the sources of our strength.


Cardinal and blue bird


Carolina chickadee

I was wiggling in my church seat! See, Steven! We’re not old. We’re arguably acting younger, not older!

This is my theory about my (not-really-new) sense of wonder for birds. My mind scraped across the sandpaper of time, responsibilities, and worries. I’ve been wearing adult shades that darken my world and dull my wonder for it. In my forties, I began reaching for inner peace and well-being. Now, in my fifties, I’ve been able to reclaim that sense of wonder. Not because I’m old, but rather because I removed those ridiculously dark adult glasses. I’ve remembered how to see (really see) the wonders of the world. I think Steven has too.

© Copyright Pennie Nichols. All Rights Reserved. 2016