What Does the Birdfeeder Mean?

Distracting me, rocking in the breeze, the birdfeeder hangs from a horizontal wire a foot outside my study window. It’s a vertical structure with three levels of four feeding stations and a cage that protects it from the undesirable squirrels. Distracting, is a quality I endow the feeder with, despite the distraction being obviously my own. The feeder is only an artifact, utilitarian, no Grecian urn to fill one’s thoughts with frolicsome marble men and maidens. Yet, the feeder reflects a meaning back at me. The chickadees are cute, like little maids from school, pert as a school-girl well can be in tidy black and white uniform. The freeloading purple finches, rose-coated men and their drab wives, swarm the feeder, a squabbling family of idlers living off handouts. I calculate the costs. It’s small, but real. The tragedy of the commons. Can I go on, being liberal, if they take more? The greedy blue jay, raucous, bold and pretty, stuffs her maw until she’s removed all she can. And then, the goldfinches come. I’m counting … if I get to seven I’ll post the picture on Facebook. Summer yellow, orange beak, black cap, white undertail--I’m the landlord, with the sign, “goldfinches only need apply.” How superficial--those fascinating wild canaries are no worthier than the dullest sparrow. Can beauty be truth if it deceives so? Being human, I react to my reacting, asking what it means. The birds have flown, and when there are no birds, the birdfeeder’s idle, full with potential energy, like a distracted author.