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February 26, 2004
Some bird feeders are simply more hip than others, like restaurants in New York. For months and months, everybody goes there, and then one day, nothing.

The one outside my window office window, for instance: Q rigged up a convenient pulley system so I could fill it easily. Birds flocked to it, gorging themselves on sunflower hearts to the point where I had to refill the thing every day. I had a little Downy Woodpecker who hung out on the tree, and put in a suet block for him, which a squirrel broke into and ate. And I had a nice brown nuthatch.

Then one weekend I was away and forgot to ask Q to fill it while I was gone. The birds were outraged, dropped me like a hot potato, didn't even come by to check. I changed to a more expensive seed. I tied a red ribbon to the feeder to attract their attention. I lowered it a little. A very flock of finches lived in a forsythia hedge not forty feet away, in plain sight. Nothing.

So I moved it to a tree near their hedge. They're using it now, although I have to put my glasses on if I want to watch them -- which is why I have feeders. Because I want to watch them.

Yesterday a Mr. and Mrs. Woodpecker pair came to the suet block in the back. Each took a side of the block, and soon the two heads were hammering away, reciprocally, like two railroad men on a handcar. At the same moment, a bright red cardinal landed on the tray, ignoring the tufted titmouse who was already there, as only the great can ignore the small. The finches noisily waited their turn in the bushes. They must think there's a new chef.

In one corner of the computer screen, I'm instant messaging with a young friend. We're bemoaning our compulsive eating, and planning the day's food consumption so that we don't lose control and eat everything in sight. Lent makes me hungry. Rebelliousness I'd forgotten I had arises in me in Lent, keeping its voice down as if we were in a library, murmuring comforting things about how busy I am and how nice I am to other people always and how unfair it is that some people never have to even think about what they eat and I do. It finds an appreciative audience. I'm a pushover. Soon, I'm eating like a bird -- most of them consume 1.5 times their weight in food every day.

But I don't have to. Today is a new day. The devil is stronger than I am, but Jesus is stronger than the devil. It is time for my tea.
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