My grandpas on either side were avid birdfeeders. On my Dad's side, Grandpa Roy would sit for hours at the big picture window in the kitchen, cursing the squirrels and formulating new methods for keeping the bigger more aggressive birds from his precious songbirds. He kept feeders for all kinds of birds, from the cardinals and jays to the smaller finches. He had feeders for orioles and hummingbirds, and kept houses around the yard for them to use for their nests.
Grandpa Del kept a smaller station, feeding an equally wide assortment of birds. His phillosophy was a little more live-and-let-live, and he read up on his birds, knowing the nesting habits and calls of most of the varieties in our neck of the woods. He had an encyclopedia in his head, and would gladly share all that information with me, if I cared to listen. I did, even though I was young and my patience was short. Grandpa Del had a stutter. To make himself better-understood, he'd often talk slowly and carefully, but his words held much wisdom. I was older when we lost Grandpa Del, and so my memories of him are more vivid. I wish I had these kinds of memories of Grandpa Roy, but I treasure the ones I do keep, and hold them close to me.
For a few weeks, I've been feeding my neighborhood birds. I love seeing their little habits and I'm amazed at how much I remember from my talks with my grandpas. I've been reading up on them, too. My Dad knows that, and last weekend when we were at Grandma's house, he showed me some homemade feeders Grandpa Roy had built. He told me to take one home, maybe fix it up. He told me Grandpa would be so proud. He choked up a bit.
Part of me fought not to fix up the feeder. I thought that every time I looked at it, I'd be reminded of how it was built by Grandpa, and how special that would make it. I realized, though, that I'd be remembering that however it looked. By cleaning it up and painting it a bit, it would be that much more attractive to the neighborhood. Grandpa would be all the more proud of it.
I'm painting it blue. As I paint, I think about how the brush that stained it red was held by Grandpa Roy. I think about the knawed-on bottom and how rough it is to paint, and think about him cursing the squirrels that did it. It makes me mist up a little bit.