Buddha and the Birds

This house has a patio, a stone-paved area edged with an iron railing, and raised on stone walls one story above the ground to make it level with the house’s first floor. Windows on the west wall of the dining room overlook the patio, making a pleasant view from the dining table, and a French door provides easy access from the house. In spring, summer, autumn, and most of the winter it is a lovely place to sit and look out over the West Fork River and the city below us. A small flower garden is built into the outer edge of the patio, directly across from the French doors. This garden was originally a very small pool, probably including a fountain, but at some point our predecessors filled it with dirt. Perhaps they found maintaining even such a tiny pool to be too much trouble.

Patio garden with Buddha, 20 July 2009

Buddha in the Patio Garden (with cat), 20 July 2009

When we bought the house the little garden had long been ignored and neglected. Odd, nasty saplings grew in it among a miscellany of weeds. In the spring we pulled out the weeds and dug up the trees, but we decided not to dig out all the dirt. We had not yet decided whether to restore the pool, and the space makes a lovely little garden area for the patio, a place for our Buddha and for our bird feeder, and a pleasant sight from the dining room. We placed the Buddha in the middle front of the garden and hung our lightest bird feeder, along with a Nyger feeder and a suet feeder, on a “crozier” next to the iron railing at the back.

Goldfinches at feeder

Goldfinches at the feeder

The feeders attract a variety of birds throughout the year — among them bluejays, cardinals, downy woodpeckers, wrens, pine siskins, and this group of goldfinches.

The first flowers we planted here were ruined by the wet ground, which was much like a swamp through spring and half the summer, but a pleasant clump of sedge had grown at the edge. We moved the sedge behind the Buddha, then simply allowed the birds to seed the rest with sunflowers and other, wilder, plants as they visited the feeder.

Patio garden

Patio garden, 19 December 2009

But a winter storm has come and the world around us is mostly white, fluffy, and cold. Today the Buddha is invisible, hiding under the snow, the cats have refused to go outside, and I don’t know how the birds will get to the seeds that lie buried under several inches of wet, cold, white insulation.

Feeder in the snow

The sheltered suet feeder

But those that eat suet can still find a small sheltered place where they can eat in peace.


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