Tuesday 20 November 2018

The Sparrow

The topic of this week's writers' group was, Are social programs necessary and if so, who should pay for them?  I took a few liberties, attempting to put the writing back in Writers' Group.

“Caw.. Caw.. Caw..”

The little sparrow could hear the crows’ cries.  They were coming from..  East.  They were coming from the direction of where the sun rose each day.  He sat for a moment, allowing the weak sunlight to warm his feathers as much as it could, and then took flight.

“Caw..  Caw..  Caw..”

Where were they?  Where..  Where..  There!  There, just below where he flew was a murder of crows hungrily gobbling up food strewn on the frozen ground.  The little bird flew down, gently landing on a large tree branch several feet above where the crows were feasting.

“Caw..  Caw..  Caw..”

A seventh crow swooped down from above to join his family.

Then, as suddenly as the sparrow imagined they had appeared, one by one, the crows took flight, their appetites satisfied for the moment.

The little sparrow looked about.  Other birds had joined him.  Blue jays, chickadees…  Even a cardinal!  Everyone looking for a handout.  He hesitated.  He had had run-ins with blue jays before..  But he needed to eat.

Moments later, the sparrow was on the ground, pecking at the food.  Periodically, blue jays would swoop in, grab a morsel or two, and then fly to the highest tree branches to eat.  The chickadees sought out the smallest edible bits - little seeds and things - while he snatched a good chunk of what must have been…  Cat food?  Eww…  Actually, it tasted pretty good.  And not just because he was starving, either.

And so it continued, day after day after day, all winter long.  Each morning, the crows announced the arrival of the food, with the others joining in when they were done.

That winter was long and cold.  The coldest winter on record.  But the buffet table - which is what the little sparrow had heard one of the other birds call it one morning - kept him alive.  It kept all of them alive, for during that long, hard winter, there was no other food to be found.

Then one morning in mid spring, sitting on the same tree branch where he had sat every morning before, the little sparrow looked about.  The crows were eating quite leisurely, no longer driven by the pains of empty stomachs.  There were no blue jays waiting in line, although he could hear them squawking off in the distance, obviously finding food on their own.  And he hadn’t seen the cardinal in ages.

Flying down to the ground, the sparrow speared a bit of cat food and swallowed it down.  Next to where it had been, he noticed movement.  A bug!  Mmm…  Delicious.

Taking flight, he looked down at the buffet table he had come to rely upon during the winter, knowing he would need it no more.  At least not for a long time.  But it had been there when he had needed it the most.  When ALL the birds had needed it.  A godsend, it had been, for without that assistance, they would have surely all died.

But now with the arrival of spring, and the prospect of a warm, sun-filled summer ahead, the little sparrow realised he and the other birds would be able to find food, all by themselves.  There would be plenty of bugs and things in the garden owned by the people who had provided them with nourishment that winter.  Bugs those very same people would appreciate his eating.  He and the other birds would now be able to earn their keep, but ONLY because of the help given to them in their darkest time of need.