Bathroom with a view…


When you are building a house there is a monumental list of things to decide. There is a list of things that are “must haves”. There must be enough outlets. There must be plenty of counter space and cabinet space. Things you’ve gone without and always wanted.

In addition there is a list of things you love and want to continue enjoying. For me there also had to be a large bathroom window. I know that many people live in an urban environment where a large bathroom window seems like a very odd “must have”.

The current farmhouse, which will remain the “farmhouse”, has a standard bathroom window on the opposite wall from the showerhead. We have no curtain, on either the shower or the window, and therefore a grand view of the backyard and at longer range – the bluff beyond the lower pasture.

In the backyard hanging from the black walnut tree I have a birdfeeder. It’s one of those birdfeeders with a little wooden roof to keep the seed dry, and clear plexi-glass windows to easily view when the feeder needs to be refilled. Only in the fall and winter do I stock the feeder. On 250 acres of mostly wooded property one or two feeders is not going to have a great impact on the bird population. Abundant winter grass has more impact on their food sources than my meager offerings. What the feeder does provide is enjoyment and closer view of our fellow inhabitants.

It’s often mid-morning or late afternoon when I shower in the winter. Now I’ll say that’s due to outside labor but not always. It’s good to wait until the wood stove is roaring and the house is warmer too. But really, I like the timing of a mid-morning shower for the view.

The day is well begun when the Jays and Cardinals descend. I don’t know if it’s normal in the bird world but the males of both species are the dandies, the brightly colored and bossy gender. The males usually dine first, reminding me of my paternal grandparents. The men gathered around the table first in their subservient domesticity. They were the breadwinners (although not the bread-bakers) and therefore entitled to the first offerings. Decades and generations later this hierarchy is unfathomable in our western world. But even when I was a child it was unfathomable to my dear mother, Melba. Mom had no problems working hard in a hot kitchen, but her maternal instincts outweighed the pecking order. I don’t remember the event but I have heard the story often of my little spitfire mother standing firm at five foot and telling the men of the Bell clan that her kids were eating first. Melba is the sweetest woman around. Ask anyone who knows her, they’ll agree. I’d love to have seen her apron-clad and hands on hips or wagging a finger at the men as they towered over her wearing their overalls and heavy boots, setting them straight on who eats when.

Do the brownish-red female cardinals ever do this? Will they fly up to the feeder and chirp out a thrashing to those flashing red males sending them back to the bushes to scratch out a few berries or seeds? I keep watching and wondering…

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