Birds of the hexagon

The thundering rain is now a gentle rain. The birds stayed away from the thunder. Today they came back, dining in the gentle rain in the hallowed hexagon.

Birds of the hexagon

They were seen having breakfast this morning, seen by me, since no other person lives in the house, and witnessed by the cat, who watched them with stalking eyes, her tail flicking rapidly from side to side.

I created the hexagon, not in any godlike way, more like an aging widower with nothing better to do way, by placing six flat stones to mark the sides of a six-sided piece of ground about two feet square in the backyard just below the kitchen window.

A hexagon was my geometric choice because it is a religious symbol of harmony and balance. I do not follow any religion, but I do like harmony and balance — particularly, now that I’m in my fall-prone seventies, balance.

Geometry is a fascinating subject. In what is referred to in the dry literature I read as sacred geometry, the hexagon is the most powerful.

One of most famous hexagons is the Star of David, which represents (and I quote) “the history, culture, and religious beliefs of the Jewish people, signifying God’s rule over the universe in six directions — north, south, east, west, and up and down.”

I’m not Jewish, I’m not anything, I am a something from somewhere, which is a step up from being a nothing from nowhere, although not by much, but I’m cool with the Star of David.

The hexagon, moreover, is at the very center of human life, found in the structure of DNA. And far beyond the make-up of earthly creatures a hexagon-shaped cloud vortex was discovered on the planet Saturn, 900 million miles from Earth.

The six-sided vortex was photographed by NASA’s Voyager mission of 1980-81, and Cassini mission of 2004. The spacecraft Cassini spent thirteen years exploring Saturn’s atmosphere before plunging to its planetary doom in 2017.

In case you’re wondering, as I did for a moment, the word hex is not derived from hexagon, but from the German hexe which means ‘witch’ and by extension to practice witchcraft. To put a hex on someone is to cast a spell that will bring bad luck.

Nothing like that will befall the birds dining in the hexagon. They have been blessed by the gentle rain.

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The birds have gone


Every morning I counted on the birds.

There was always a profusion of color and flurry around the bird feeder in my backyard and in the trees around the house.

But in the last week or so, the birds have disappeared. The bird feeder is still full from the last refill.

The mornings now have an eerie emptiness.

The birds — so many and of such a variety of colors and personalities — were among my last companions, along with the squirrels and the chipmunks and the deer that come down from the thick woods beyond the backyard.

The squirrels and the chipmunks have gone too, come to think of it. Two young deer came down this morning when I looked out the window around 3 a.m.  They eat the bird seed (a mixture of nuts and fruit) that spills onto the ground.

I am by no means an ornithologist but I know some birds fly to summer breeding grounds in Canada and Alaska, but not many. Most of the birds that frequent my feeder — sparrows, finches, doves, blue jays — are year-round residents that don’t migrate.

So where are they?

I read there’s a mysterious disease that’s killing songbirds in the mid-Atlantic and neighboring states. The states mentioned (Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and Kentucky) did not include New York, but I was left to wonder if that’s why they have vanished from my backyard.

When I mentioned this to a friend who lives in the Niagara Frontier he suggested it could be the presence of hawks in my piece of the sky.

“The times I’ve seen a total absence of birds around my feeder — I mean totally GONE! — was because a red-tailed hawk had cruised noiselessly over the area,” he said. “The birds eventually return, but if the hawk remains in the vicinity, it may take some time.”

“I have seen a hawk or two swooping around,” I told him. “They cast a fleeting shadow as they fly over.”

“That fleeting shadow fly-over sums it up,” he said. “Imagine it was twenty-five times YOUR size — you’d flee and hide as quickly as possible, too!”

Whether the bird exodus is due to summer migration or illness or menacing black hawks, it’s a distressing situation. For the birds and for me.

I relied on their “company.” In my solitary life in this country hovel I would stand at the kitchen window and watch their comings and goings, admiring all the colors and enjoying their different personalities — the macho blue jay versus the meek mourning dove, for example.

The cat would watch them too, harboring different thoughts than mine. They filled a gap in our lives. Now I turn away from the window and say to the cat: “Now what?”

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