her feathered cap

The birds are molting. At first I thought they were sick.


It started with a Sparrow on the suet feeder, sickly balding head on a messy feathered body. I wondered briefly if I should catch her, take her to the rehab center where she would be pumped full of good health from a thread-thin IV and a thimble. I worried it was the mystery illness downing songbirds mid-flight across the country.


And then it was a Cardinal gathering sun- and safflower, and a Bluejay stealing peanuts. Both had lost their proud crests. Without their feathered caps like warning flags, they would have to rely on the squirrels and squinnies to alert the wild 'hood when Hawk hunts the block.


Google, in her all-knowing, has told me to relax. They're just molting.


I wonder if this is why I haven't seen the Nuthatches and House Finches. Some birds in some cycles of molting can't fly. They have to lay low -- out of the reach of predators -- until the new feathers grow in. I imagine them in the hollow of the Maple, bored and restless, squabbling over space and card games, while the neighbor's cats party on the lawn.


At any rate, it struck me that molting is growth and repair, but it first looks like illness and despair.


Maybe we are molting, too.


I've been trying to build a cleaner brain -- removing some things that have clogged it and fogged it for longer than serves. Wine, namely. As my matter rearranges, I feel mostly tired. And worried. And I wonder if that was the stain on the carpet under the rug the whole time: Worry.


My current worry partners are:


- Our schools

- Our children

- My child

- Afghanistan

- Our collective inability to coexist peacefully

- Health care / Who can afford to get sick and who can't

- Why it isn't a unanimous Yes to fix chronically inequitable systems

- The rivers and the lakes and the ponds and the oceans

- And the birds


School has started again. My to-do list is full, and my introvert screams for home in the middle of cluttered hallways and so much talking. It is a transition every year to put on shoes and friendly face and conversation and problem solving and schedule keeping, and then bundle the Summer Ends together, tightly and tighter still, the loose hours and barefoot wandering.


I'm not unique. We're all doing it.


But I do feel I'm missing some feathers this time around.

My son: entering Day 2 of 4th Grade



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