Gifts, Manners and Thank Yous


birdy-2I’ve been somewhat held prisoner in my 3rd floor sanctuary for the weekend, although grateful that it’s been due to having enough writing work to keep me busy on a daily basis.  If you follow my photo/travel blog at all, you may have noticed my last two entries, “Patio Occupado” and “Patio Invasion,” where I’ve shared my temporary adoption of a family of displaced birds.

I felt quite blessed to have gotten so close to these creatures of nature, and their total trust in me that I would not scare or harm them in any way.  It appeared they’d been through a lot in the prior few days, especially when the maintenance department in my apartment complex did their usual bird and bug “shooing” by power washing water and what smelled like bleach in the breezeways and underneath the stairways.  It sounds so cruel, but if you lived where I live, on a lake in South Carolina (near a nuclear plant no less), you’d see a lot of nature just by opening your apartment door.  I mentioned the nuclear plant because in my mind I imagine it to be responsible for the giant, over-sized bugs we have, some as big as my hands.  I’m not a fan of bugs; entomology would never be my chose profession if given the choice.  However, I do love animals of all kind – and sometimes even bugs, when I get to study them – the colors, the movements and the intelligence.  These birds were very intelligent and sensitive.  There was definitely a communication exchange going on between us; of that I have no doubt. .

So yesterday, while looking through my office window out onto the patio where the birds were perched for a day or two, I saw something small and white on my new patio chair cushion.  One of the birds sat on my cushion two days before, and we had a brief exchange where I told him and his brothers/sisters that the cushions were off limits.  If I had to clean bird crap from my patio cushions or any place for that matter, I might literally puke.  It was bad enough that I had to take a bucket of water and toss is out onto the patio floor and the railings to clean up after the family gathering.  I have a weak stomach when it comes to stuff like that.  Anyway, this little bird flew away after our exchange, but when they all came back later on, no one sat on my chairs.  “Thank you.”  But now there’s this tiny white spot that, as I squint, I’m sure it’s a “gift” from the birds.  They didn’t come back yesterday, hopefully the family had time to make a new nest in a safer place, far from chemicals.  Its’ not that I don’t live in a wooded area, but they seemed to prefer high perches under stairways or on top of the tiny fire sprinklers near the ceilings of the building.  This morning I finally got up the nerve to go out and inspect my chair.  Much to my surprise, it was the gift I had expected – it was indeed, I think, a true gift for my hospitality.  It was a dead, tiny baby cricket.  It reminded me of when my dog used to bring me dead birds and plop them on my patio.  I would scream in horror and my mother would explain that it was a gift, which only made the spectacle slightly less gross.

Well, I don’t eat crickets of any size, so of course I flicked it over the railing, hopefully to wind up as dinner for some bird out for a walk on the lawn.  However, I did say, “Thank you for my gift.”

I was always taught growing up that when you receive a gift, whether you really like it or not, that it is the polite thing to do to just smile and say “thank you.”  To do otherwise might hurt the gift giver’s feelings.  After all it’s just nice that they would think to give you a gift at all, and you want to appreciate the sentiment, even if you don’t love the gift.

I miss my friends, but I’m sure I’ll see them flying by when I’m out on my patio.  I feel blessed to have had the chance to get to know them.



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