Plate Glass Window
from Reflections on a Life, writings and paintings for my father
The only birds I could identify as a child were the cardinal and the robin. But I loved the sounds of the names of birds. I thought they were pretty.
Nuthatch. Sparrow. Warbler. Chickadee.
My dad knew them all. And the music of his voice was part of the sound of the words. I still can’t separate the melody of his voice from the simple fact of the words. We had a large plate glass window in our dining room. My dad often called me toward it to it to see the birds. “Move slowly,” he’d say, “Don’t make a sound.” He would stand like a guard on my path toward the sight. I’d walk thief-like toward the plate glass window, until he quietly told me to stop.
Sometimes the bird would be right there on the outside sill where my parents had scattered bird seeds. But sometimes the bird would be in the yellow delicious apple tree just beyond the grape arbor and my dad would give me the bird’s specific location. I’d stand absolutely still and my eyes would search for the spot he described, and if I was lucky, the bird would perch there until I found it. Then my father and I would stand silent and in awe until the beautiful creature flew away.
An earlier version of this writing and several of the bird paintings were part of an exhibit honoring my father shortly after his death.