*Originally posted by my son Cliff the day after the U.S. Presidential Election
Still entrenched in the shock from last night’s election results, waves of nausea swirling in my gut, I stared blankly out the back door of our home. Surely, this must be some type of bad dream, something that will pass and bring us into a reality that makes sense.
The view out the glass door always provided a wondrous view; it was one of the reasons that we bought this house many years ago. In spring, the trees stretch into the distance, birds of all colors filling the sky. In summer, bats dart erratically in the night, threatening to collide with your head as they perform their crazed nighttime dance. In winter, the barren landscape is still beautiful, the openness of the trees providing a view to a mountain in the distance, a ski lift peering through bits of white and gray. And on this fall day, the leaves pop with dull but varied colors, glints of purple and evergreen, a sun baked orange, deep burgundy, mostly scattered across the ground, but still a few brave ones keeping their residence within the trees.
To my left, at our bird feeder, sat a large and overstuffed bluejay. He had taken up residence at the feeder and was gorging himself upon its contents. I’d seen the bluejay over the course of the spring and summer, but I never grew particularly fond of him. He seemed selfish and territorial, always squawking unnecessarily and flapping his wings aggressively, all in an attempt to consume as many seeds as possible, while preventing the other birds from venturing near the bird feeder.
In the gangly tree next to the feeder, a brown sparrow sat on a branch, precariously close to the much larger bluejay. The bluejay opened his wings and flew over to the nearby branch, sending the sparrow into the inner depths of the tree. The bluejay, content with his actions, puffed his chest and returned to eating. A minute later, two sparrows returned to the nearby branch, and then quickly hopped over to the opposite side of the feeder. The bluejay left his post to shoo away his new neighbors, and once more, the bluejay was left alone at the feeder.
Several minutes went by and I watched the bluejay. He ate, preened, ate, preened, all while standing guard at the feeder, preventing all other birds from joining in on the plentiful feast. The mighty sparrow returned, then a second, then a third, and within a minute’s time, there were ten sparrows seated at a branch overhanging the feeder and the unsuspecting bluejay. In his arrogance, he didn’t notice the large gathering of hungry birds, and in an instant, they surrounded both he and the feeder. The bluejay paused for a moment and contemplated his willingness to fend off the sparrows, but after realizing their relentless nature, and the fact that he was outnumbered, he leapt into the tree, and then flew off into the distance.
The sparrows, now able to feed without the hindrance of the bluejay, happily bounced along the edge of the feeder, taking turns to allow their fellow sparrows to share in the meal. Their unwillingness to give in to the tyranny of the bluejay was impressive, and even though they were all relatively small in size, they seemed content sharing the bird food amongst their collective unit, without a single sparrow feeling the need to act in a glutinous way.
I thought back to the prior evening and my discontent. Like many other Americans, I had pondered the possibility of leaving the country. I researched properties throughout Nova Scotia. I considered packing up my family, our two dogs, cat, rabbit, turtle, fourteen chickens, and two ducks into the back of our SUV and heading to greener pastures, away from the results of a nightmarish election. Then, I thought about the sparrows. They didn’t seek refuge in another location. They didn’t look for food in a new place. Through sheer perseverance, they outlasted the bluejay and claimed what was rightfully theirs.
And we will do the same.
We will outlast.
We will persevere.
We will not be defeated.