Morning, and I hadn't wanted to get up at all. But I dragged myself out of bed, put on my blue plaid bathrobe, and trudged downstairs. Another day, another batch of cherry juice and glucosamine to mix up, another choke-worthy collection of pills to take. Old age, they say, is not for sissies. I agree, and I'm a sissy at heart. But I did manage to make fresh coffee.
Pulling a long coat on to disguise my bathrobe and keep off the morning chill from Lake Superior, I took my first cup of coffee to the front porch. 
Morning's air was full of tweets and twitters. Chickadees were swooping in, their flight paths sine waves in the air. Nuthatches darted to our bird feeders, fussing with each other over who got first dibs on the nutty goodies feeder. Both kinds were zipping about, the larger white-breasted, and the smaller, brighter rosy-breasted ones.
I stood by a porch post, unmoving, barely sipping the coffee I held at chest-level in my right hand. I love chickadees, those friendly little puffs of cuteness who faithfully brighten these gloomy northern winters as long as we feed them. But the rosy nuthatches are a special treat, so swift and bright.
Suddenly one of those larger nuthatches started a bit of a scuffle, and sent all the others darting in all directions. One of the little rosy ones lit in the old lilac bush beside my porch post.
I felt a rush of air on my cheek, and then, so briefly I hadn't time to look down, the scratch of tiny claws as that little nuthatch landed on my hand holding my coffee cup. Unmoving, I stood in wonder as it rejoined its feeding companions. 
That day continued overcast, gloomy. But the knuckle of my right index finger seemed to glow all day. Brightness sometimes "falls from the air."

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    Lillian Heldreth is a retired professor of English and Native American Studies. She lives on the South Shore of Lake Superior and at times in Fayette County, West Virginia.


    November 2012