A Gathering of Birds: Memory of Last Rainy Season

This morning Phil made coffee before work. We sat on the porch and watched the rain fall from a grey sky. A termite floated bravely up from the ground, hovered in the middle of the air, tried to resist the press of water on its wispy wings. A weaver bird, yellow and blurry in the rain, darted from the potato tree, plucked the termite from the sky and turned, mid-flight, leaving two lonely wings to spin back towards the ground. A moment later another termite appeared, up, up, rising like a tiny Icarus, and before it could even reach above the hedge line another bird swooped from grey and swallowed it midflight. And then while we were still stunned and curious, a great population of birds, yellow, red, grey, black, appeared from the trees and leaves and raindrops themselves, diving and darting around the yard in a frenzy of feasting. We called the girls to the porch and they stood as near to the veil of rain as they dared, still pajama-clad and rumpled from sleeping. We watched the dizzying show, wondered how the birds missed each other, how they knew so quickly termites were here, how they established order in the rain. Ten, twenty, soon there were more than a hundred flapping, swooping, chattering birds, gathered in our yard for a grand convention. We witnessed it with gratitude, couldn’t help making sound effects every time another termite was snapped in those tiny beaks, felt pity for the little bugs whose gasp at glory was so brief, but cheered for the satisfaction of tiny red birds with long tail feathers, swimming in their rainy breakfast.

Later after Phil left, the girls and I stayed on the porch, wrapped ourselves in Masai blankets and read The Princess and the Goblin. J lay her head on my lap, worried about witches, curled her thin legs under blankets. M leaned against my shoulder and tried to resist the temptation to read ahead, already predicting and sorting all the possibilities of story. P climbed on the table, tipped back empty coffee cups to feel the last cool drips on her tongue, interrupted a hundred times, ‘Excuse me Mommy.’
Princesses, goblins, termites, weaver birds, raindrops on purple flowering trees and the distant call of an eagle that sounds, to J, like Naivasha. Enchantment runs in rivulets down our days.

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