I have my own picture window now, complete with bird feeder.

Grandma fed
her chickadees

religiously, for years.  Filling 

a rusted coffee can with sunflower 

seeds, she loaded the feeder outside 

her big picture
window, daily.

Seated with binoculars
and bird book in hand, 

she watched the window like a big screen TV.

A .22 leaned casually against the window frame.  

She slipped its nose out occasionally, firing a round 

into marauding Blue Jays and other greedy types.

Her letters to me, in shaky script, described 

she saw and bears; often

mother bears
moving through the old

orchard on
their way to the river

with cubs in

She stopped shooting the rifle, she said,

after she accidentally shot a hole in the floor.  

When a bold bear came and
stood outside the window

making eye
contact with her, she also stopped 
feeding the

I wanted her
to feed them anyway,

to stand her
petite frame in the wide

binoculars in one hand and riffle

in the
other, like a sharp shooter in the WWII

movies Grandpa and I watched in her

room.  I wanted food for the birds,

which were
food for her.  I wanted her to keep


Now I walk my own property

toting bags
of oiled, black sunflower seeds. 

One by one I lower, fill, and rehang feeders.  

I watch dumpy
bright yellow finches 

and the greedy squirrel who
hangs upside-down by his back toes.

I lift my
children to face the window, “Look! 
See!,” I

We’re a long way from the mountains,

though I can
see them in the distance.  

I don’t
the bears
will find me here, 

but if they do, maybe I’ll tell them

about my
Grandmother – her binoculars and gun,

her happy, well-fed chickadees.    

Sustainable Spirituality

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