Of Birds and Blooms

I started accidentally collecting birds a few years ago. I happened upon this print in Jackson Square in New Orleans and liked the colors so I bought and framed it to hang in my bedroom. After that, I started noticing birds everywhere! They have to be certain style of bird though – and I don’t seek them out. But when I happen across one at that I like, I will add it to the collection.

The birds are secondary to my seasonal decorations so they only come out when I don’t have the house decorated for a specific holiday or season. From March until just a couple of weeks ago I still had my Easter decorations out and finally decided it was time to put them away. Up went the bunnies and out came the birds.

In addition to the bird decor, we have noticed many more birds since we put up a small fence for our dogs and are outdoors more.

There is one particular bird that we think may have a nest in our massive rose bush as we see one of them perched on the shepherd’s hook in the middle of the bush and she (or he? or they?) seemed displeased at our very presence.

These rose bushes – there are two – came from cuttings from my parents home in south Arkansas and then in western Arkansas. When we moved here in 2006, my dad brought us a couple of them and they have exploded over the years. A few weeks ago, around the time I started putting out the birds in the house, I started noticing that the roses seemed to have bloomed overnight.

Now these rose bushes are thriving in spite of me – I am legendary for buying plants in the springtime, forgetting to water them as the weather heats up, refusing to step foot out of doors once it gets really hot and humid, and consequently killing all involved. This year, many many plants were saved from my neglectful plans due to the quarantine; although our state was never actually on a “lock down”, we truly have tried not to go anywhere that wasn’t absolutely necessary.

Before I realized I could buy plants for curbside pickup at our local nursery, I ordered some seeds to start in containers on both my front porch and back patio. I later added a few young plants and a tomato and pepper. Although time will tell how they will fare, everything was looking promising as of the last couple of weeks.

By now you are likely thinking, okay so what’s the point of these ramblings? I have an assortment of birds and plants that may or may not survive an Arkansas summer. Around the time I started noticing the seeds sprouting, the rose bushes blooming and I put the birds back out, it seemed that the first “wave” of what we are calling quarantine around our house was coming to an end. We started taking extreme precautions on March 17th and around the first part of May, restrictions were beginning to be lifted in Arkansas and we began to see that the initial hard lock down on our part might be transitioning to something else. The “birds and the blooms” seemed to provide some semblance of hope during a dark, uncertain time, a time which had been magnified by personal grief and loss.

I started to write about a dozen times about this subject but I would begin and then think that it was just too saccharine, the springtime cliches of starting over, of new life from the soil, the thought of emerging from the darkness and things getting better and brighter. Things are just still too uncertain. We are still in the midst of a health pandemic. There will not be a definitive line of demarcation noting “this time of crisis is over and it’s time to move on” (although that is the attitude many – especially in our area have taken, but that is a subject for another day). And, Covid aside, some things in our life will never be the same given the events of the past six months.

Despite all my misgivings and the uncertainty of the time in which we are living, I acknowledge that these are small things which bring me joy. When I look at the small glass birds in the bead bowl my friend Vickie sent me from one of her travels, I remember her and smile. When I see this small print that we bought on a day trip at a craft fair that we happened upon, I remember those trips and look forward to a time when we will get out and travel again.

When I see these massive rose bushes, I think of my Daddy, who would haphazardly transplant trees or flowers and yet somehow, they would grow.

And when I think of planting these seeds and flowers, sharing some of them with my mom, and watching them grow and thrive, I feel real satisfaction in knowing that this time has led to creativity, and resilience, and yes, life. And I am blessed with the realization that even through these dark days of uncertainty, isolation, and even depression, we still have managed to make beautiful memories and create beautiful things.

This time is unprecedented. We don’t know what will come next or how we will handle this next phase of all of our lives, but we will press on and through it all, God willing, we will continue to bloom.

-Karri Temple Brackett
May 23, 2020

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