Bluejays & the end of summer

It’s not autumn yet, but if you set your gaze on the eastern horizon, you can pick out the tops of her sails.

Won’t be long now.

Which was very much on my mind on the last day of August when I shot this little movie of bluejays swarming my deck, squabbling over some peanuts I’d put out to lure them.

August is a summer month; September, a fall month. There’s a pass-over happening. This year especially, when the only weather deserving of the label ‘summer’ came in late August, the feeling was heightened.

No matter how nice September turns out to be, it’s still fall. When August ends, summer’s over.

But summer is a busy time. There are always plants to be watered; grass to be mowed; chores to be done. So it’s easy to miss the magic of the end of August; to give it no more of a salute than to say, “Yup, soon be fall,” to the girls at the store where you buy your smokes.

I have the bluejays to thank for having made me stop for an hour or so to sit and watch, listen to, and smell the end of August. To feel real summer sun on the skin. To hear a gentle breeze rustle leaves that will, all too soon, turn rusty. To appreciate the vibrancy of flower and foliage colour that only heat and strong sunlight can bring forth. To marvel at the beauty and endless variability of wood grain. To really see what’s all around us.

And – centre stage – to behold the masterpiece of colour and pattern that is the plumage of the bluejay.

It goes without saying that I love bluejays. Not only are they gorgeous to look at, but their behaviour is so entertaining.  They’re the crackies of the bird world, brazen, impatient, scolding, noisy, constantly squabbling, pushing and shoving, but never overtly violent. Like a family with sixteen kids, they stick together and get along, but in a very rough and tumble way. There just never seems to be room or time for niceties. Coddling is not on the menu.

And like big families at the dinner table, it’s a matter of grab whatever you can, and fast. I’ve observed over time that crows will regularly take as many as four peanuts-in-the-shell before flying off, but I always thought bluejays were one-at-a-time grabbers. I was wrong, as you can see if you want.

So spare me five minutes, if you will. I know – you’ve got stuff to do, just like I did on the last day of August. Just five minutes. Stop and look. Turn the volume up full, so you can hear the sound of birdie footfall on wooden deck, the beat of wings, the squawk and chatter. You won’t be sorry for having spent just five minutes meditating on those other life forms with whom we share this precious blue planet.

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