Riding Metro North. With ‘My’ Little Bird.

So, let’s back up the bus a bit and set this up.  It was a New Year post titled What’s Your Spirit Bird where Margaret Renkl explains that “There’s a New Year’s tradition among bird-watchers: The first bird you see on New Year’s Day is your theme bird for the year. Your spirit bird.” 

So, I’ve seen many birds since Jan 1, but not my bird. Not the right bird. And I don’t want to hear from you rule-sticklers that it’s not keeping with the “first” bird rule.

And the mind slips off the rails to a rabbit trail in Gail Honeyman’s” Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine: “I don’t need anyone else — there’s no big hole in my life, no missing part of my own particular puzzle. I am a self-contained entity. That’s what I’ve always told myself, at any rate.” No Hugely Holes. Not Bigly anyway. Trump’s infiltrating the mind. God, I do have problems. Bigly problems. OMG. Help me.

Monday, was, a long day. 7am flight to Dallas. 4 hour flight. 5 hours on ground. 4 hour flight back.  4 hours of sleep. (I don’t know if this math adds up. Who cares?)

And then, it’s Tuesday. I’m sitting in the warming hut waiting for a off-peak 10:00 am train to Grand Central. Light snow is falling.  Darien Schools have closed for the day. 2-3 inches, and the world stops these days. (When I was young, I used to walk to school in 2 feet of snow – I’m sure, it was in bare feet, I was that tough.  Snow days? WTH is that? The world has gotten soft.)

I shift on the steel bench, the train is scheduled to arrive in 4 minutes. I flip through my messages. And out of the corner of my eye on the ground in front of me is movement.

I lift my head.

And there she is. Has to be she. Just has to be.

Sparrow. Fluffy. Furry. Staring at me. Me staring at her. Spirit Bird? You?

She doesn’t move.

I reach for my phone. This could be it. You could be it. I snap the shot. She’s motionless.

I tuck my iPhone into my pocket.

I stare at her.

She stares at me.

Buechner describes it: “to see, to experience, this moment that is framed.

The train pulls up. The commuter next to me gets up and startles her, and with a few flaps of her little wings she’s off to the other end of the hut.

I step into the train car. Take my seat. Look back at the warming shed as we pass and Google s-p-a-r-r-o-w to find Sparrow-Spirit Animal.

My eyes skim left to right, landing on the words that touch:

They symbolize power, regardless of size. They are also a symbol of persistence, diligence, productivity and hard work. (they) symbolize courage and caution…Sparrows are small, but powerful birds. They are also a boost to our self – confidence and dignity. They teach us self – love, but also to care for others. They always do something, whether they are gathering food, feeding the young, building their nests, etc. If this is your spirit animal, those are your traits also. You probably never waste time or procrastinate. You are a very organized person, always doing something…

Always doing something. Sparrow. Spirit Bird.

And so it is, Sparrow, my Spirit Bird.

I glance outside, light snow continues to fall, the wind from the train cars swirl the snow around it. Inside, the heat blows from the overhead vents, and the snowstorm in me settles.

I close my eyes and drift off to a clip from Barry Lopez in Arctic Dreams: “I felt a calmness birds can bring to people; and, quieted, I sensed here the outlines of the oldest mysteries: the nature and extent of space, the fall of light from the heavens, the pooling of time in the present, as if it were water.”

‘I felt a calmness birds can bring to people.’


‘the fall of light from heavens.’

‘as if it were water.’

And I let go, let go of all of IT…

And slept.



  1. I’m so glad you met your avian spirit – some need to soar, others need the confidence to alight and rest.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s inspirational and poetic.. Kudos to you. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You fell asleep in the warming hut? That can have some consequences. That being said, glad you found your bird and that it wasn’t a Cuckoo 😊

    Liked by 1 person

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  5. I love your spirit bird.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Aaaawh – this raised all my fine hairs not only those on my arms as the other day….. And I‘m so über-pleased that the sparrow has chosen you. In Switzerland, we have trillions of them, they are everywhere, turn their beady eyes in every direction to catch a crumb falling from your table, they come in droves but because they are so innocent, busy, cute and tiny, they have never become a bother like seagulls, pigeons, magpies etc. So I‘m really, really happy for you to be a sparrow-spirit (I‘m one too and I often had to defend them against the nay-sayers …..) – and thank you for this touching, beautiful and timely tale.
    Have a brilliant, joyful and restful weekend.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. She’s so beautiful.
    Something I noticed this year, even during the polar vortex, they are always here, ALWAYS, and yes, always doing something! Hardworking, so true…

    Liked by 1 person

    • They are, aren’t they. So small yet, surviving in this cold. Amazing.


      • I go to the lake everyday. People and their dogs stopped going when it got cold. The seagulls disappeared. Sparrows are still there ❤

        Liked by 1 person

        • amazing

          Liked by 1 person

        • That sparrows are garrulous in wintertime is not surprising as they are always chatty, aggregative, birds. At first, he did not spot them though he heard them close-by. Then he noticed that they had congregated about a bird-feeder at a third floor apartment window. Two or three in flight at a time, the birds squabbled at the feeder. Below them, shivering on the ledge, a row of others were arrayed like early morning commuters waiting for a late bus. Below these, two stories down, were yet more sparrows clustered in a low hedge. Those congregating below had ruffled up their feathers and appeared twice the size of those at the feeders. The birds in the shrubbery chattered away and despite their almost globular shape, they seemed cold. He was frozen just looking at them. Every so often, one or two of those in the shrubbery would take off, alighting first on the ledge and then they would mount an assault on the feeder. The birds already there would object for a bit, but seemed to quickly relent. It was as if the needs of those frozen in the hedge gave them some priority. In reality, he reflected, those who had just fed were temporarily sated on seeds and did not have the will to withstand the assault from below. The dispossessed sparrows would either descend to the ledge, or descend all the way to the branches of the shrub.

          He watched and listened for a while to this little spectacle. It seemed like this cycle might continue for as long as the cold persisted, until the seed ran out, or conceivably until the birds dropped from the branches and froze on the ground. Happy with his little speculation he was about to continue on his way. He noticed then, however, that in addition to the birds at the feeder and those on the ledge and those in the recesses of hedge, there was one more bird. This one sat alone on a ledge on the second floor, a little off to the side from the others. In the time he stood there to watch this bird, she barely moved. She had not ruffled her feathers against the cold, she had not made a raid upon the feeder, nor had she descended to the ground. She was not part of this rotating wheel that sustained the other sparrows. Had this bird simply realized that she was dying, and had given up? Or was this yet another part of the cycle, a part that he found less easy to fathom. He took a mental note and then left.

          He would return the next day and see if she had indeed perished, though he wondered if he would recognize her body even if she had.

          ~ Liam Heneghan, Sparrows in Winter | 3 Quarks Daily, February 11, 2019


          Liked by 3 people

  8. “the snowstorm in me settles”. I love the image that projects. Glad you found your spirit bird!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. what a precious gift your spirit bird delivered to you –

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Having another spirit close, even one so different from oneself, means being never alone, no matter how tough the circumstances. And so, being able to let go and sleep.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I’m so glad you found her and the gift of sleep on the train ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Tickled that your spirit bird found you at last, pal. When it’s right, you know it. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Wonderful. I’m happy you found your spirit bird. Just tell her to continue to bring you calmness and she will…

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Looks to me like the human found his spirit bird and the bird their spirit human … I really think you found each other!

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Our apartment is at treetop level, so we are eye to eye with many birds. The most frequent are red-tailed hawks soaring overhead and sometimes coming so close we can hear the wind whooshing through their wings. I wonder if they’re mine: far-seeing, riding the thermals, fierce.

    Love this post.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. wow what good luck.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. You gotta be happy with a sparrow Dave! So perfect for you! xxxx

    Liked by 1 person

  18. To a “T” DK…she was looking up to you…she is really smart to stay in the warming hut…love the what looks to be Terrazzo Floor! So glad to have introduced you to Barry Lopez (Field Notes interesting one of his stories on (The Canyon Wren) and also Maria P. (Brain Picking)/// We had a beautiful Cooper’s Hawk on the lowest branch of the Aspen tree earlier this week…they like Sparrows and thank goodness he didn’t get one!
    We also saw over a hundred Robins in the open area in the small park behind us and over…wrong time of year for Robins and so Many!

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Sooooooo very much you! And pffft on being “late” in finding her – I agree, it MUST be a her! Reading the description, I found myself nodding my head yes (as if I know you, but well, what I do know, I see 😉 )
    I’ve not yet found mine, to tell the truth. Oh, I’ve see a few birds since reading that January post but none that stayed with me…
    Loved that “Sparrows in Winter”.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. I liked this

    Liked by 1 person

  21. I love the juxtaposition of the human environment and the natural that is apparent in this post. It’s a blessing to have those moments: just as you are gearing up for that commute into the city and the busy world of human endeavor and all that it entails, there she is, to remind you. Lovely lovely post David!

    Liked by 1 person

  22. When you nail it, you nail it. This may be my most favorite of all DK time. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

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