The female looks just like any other female finch, almost sparrow-like, with muted colors of tans and white stripes about the head. However she is chunkier. I have often mistaken a common female purple finch for a grosbeak. Is that her??? Nope, not this time, over and over again.
This year on May 2nd, I was in the middle of a massage session. Something told me to turn my head and look out the window. Was that her??? Sure enough is was, and not far was her mate with the beautiful bleeding heart. My own heart leapt with joy, I took a deep breath and let out a long sigh of gratitude.
There are two pairs here this year. They are the sweetest most unassuming birds that come to the feeder. Although slightly bigger than the other birds that visit the feeders, they politely wait their turn. He tenderly places a seed in her mouth. The pairs seem to truly be in love!
They do not spook from us humans, and sit perched outside on the cedar tree looking in the studio window, with their little heads cocked to one side, watching as the massage therapies are in session. Clients are dumbfounded. We would like to think that the birds are attracted to the calm energy that comes from healing that takes place here.
I wondered about the two pairs that arrived on the same day. Where did they just arrive from? Do they travel in flocks, like some other birds? I can refer to the old standby bird books, but as fate would have it, just this morning, my husband left a copy of the Adirondack Explorer on the sink in the bathroom, and lo and behold the headline reads: “The Miracle of Migration.” An article by Brian McAllister entitled “What a Long Strange Trip” seemed mysteriously placed in my path to answer some of my questions.
These grosbeaks winter as far west as the Dakotas and straight down south to Texas and Mexico. These and other migrating songbirds can fly 100-200 miles per day, flying at rates of 20-40 mph.
We did not have television here until the spring following 9-11. We watched the birds instead. We had more conversations, we played music together, and probably went to bed earlier than most people. We were not stressed out by all the negativity on the networks. NO news is good news.
When it came time that we needed a computer to run a business, the television came with the package. Since then we have learned that we had no say as to whether or not we would go to war. We cannot control the price of gas. We learned that we are on our own should a hurricane Katrina hit our area. Many were duped into adjustable mortgages, only to lose their homes. Our beautiful wild lands are being developed, only to have houses sit unsold, uncompleted, or in foreclosure. Do we make a car payment, or buy groceries? Our breath is held, our hands clenched, our jaws tight, and we lose sleep. It's no wonder my massage business is increasing. We are all totally stressed out!
These are tough times for sure. It becomes very difficult to remain hopeful, and to trust that things will get better. For me, paying attention to nature, and witnessing these small miracles, gives me hope, and brings peace to my bleeding heart. I know I can count on something in a world spinning out of control. Here, in Clinton, peace can be found, not far from our own window.
"What a Long Strange Trip," Brian McAllister, Adirondack Explorer.
Pat Laine is an 8 year resident of Clinton. She owns and operates Little Creek Therapeutic Massage. She shares her home with her husband Will and their two Maine Coon cats. Whether walking in the woods, or from their vantage point overlooking Little Wappingers Creek and its environs, they observe the miracles of wildlife and plant life on a daily basis.