Thistles Again


Beautiful trills of birdsong drifted through the bathroom window. As I raised the mini-blind halfway, I expected to see, somewhere, a goldfinch. There it was, in all its glory, perched on the long clothesline that Mark strung across our lawn.
I love to watch birds, but for some reason, I get a special thrill over these little black and gold beauties. They always sound like they are extremely pleased to be in our yard with our thistles.
I feel shamefully guilty, since too often, I allow the prickly plants to grow so large it takes gloves and special tools to remove them. By then, their unusual buds have formed, and, knowing what potential beauty lies inside, I can’t bring myself to check their growth. In spite of their prickly menacing, I anticipate the pretty, purple blooms I love so much, and I let nature have its way.
“Look at the goldfinch!” I called to my daughters, who reluctantly came to the window to humor my enthusiasm with lukewarm interest.
“Aahh!” they agreed the finch was beautiful.
“I knew it was out there,” Jo said, “I saw the thistle down drifting past the kitchen window. Now, there’ll be even more thistles next year.”
“Probably.” I was slightly sorry she was right, but our place sits back off the main road, so only a few visitors might notice my weedy yard, and I guess I don’t care what the neighbors think.
I pictured the well-groomed lawn around the home where I grew up with bird feeders posted in the best spots for viewing around the house. My dad always provides a varied mix of birdy treats and fills special feeders with thistle seed.
“I should do that, too,” I thought, “and avoid letting this place get so overgrown.”
I was attracted again by the happy bird voice outside and saw the little finch dive from the clothesline toward the purple blooms bursting with fluff. It tore into them with its little beak. The down flew. I witnessed the wonderfully coordinated feasting and propagating with renewed awareness of the complex process depicted in so simple a scene.
It was a nature moment. If I stayed there long enough, I would feel a throat-swelling lump and tear-flooded eyes, but I didn’t linger any longer that day. I happily went back to what consumes my time most – kids and cooking and dishes and laundry and endlessly tidying an untidy house. Contentment came from knowing that it’s all there, just outside my window. All I need to do is stop and look.

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