In his splashy mating-season plumage, a plump male goldfinch — perhaps fattened up on a diet of street tacos? — perches on the blooming wild currant in front of Nuthatch cabin.
TODAY MARKS THE ONE-YEAR ANNIVERSARY of Barbara’s final day of work at the University of Washington’s Suzzallo Library. My one-year mark for departing The Seattle Times comes next Tuesday. For us, the time has flown as quickly as the goldfinches that have just returned to the San Juans from their Mexican wintering grounds.
When I returned from a Seattle visit last week — a hectic round of doctor checkups (all’s well-ish, for an old fart) and auto maintenance (airbag recall on the Honda, new sparkplugs, etc.) — Barbara passed along news of an exciting event while I’d been away.
“The goldfinches have returned!” she told me, beaming like a Super Moon. (You might even say she was all atwitter.)
It’s symbolic of how our lives have changed since we ditched our office jobs and moved to Nuthatch cabin. We measure the passing of the seasons by the birds at our feeders and the flowers in our woods. (Barbara has suggested I start going by “Henry David.” I’m not sure.)
The other day she proclaimed, “I love that we get to see the whole season of flowering on our wild currant,” rather than just a couple of days worth of blooms during the monthly visits we used to make when we were job-bound. (How do you like that for a term? It’s part of our new paradigm.)
The goldfinches are a happy recurrence. Last summer, as loyal Reefers might recall, we saw the bright yellow males and their paler mates raise whole families here. It was obvious when the new hatchlings emerged, awkward in flight and sometimes falling into the water feature on our deck, which is popular as a bird bath in warmer months.
Goldfinches, notable as Washington’s state bird, are one of our favorites, adding a cheerful splash of color to our woods.
I think we can take another year of this.