First, look at this bird:
This is the view you'd have many evenings if you sat where I sat on the end of the sofa. I can look up through the window pane from that location and stare at the very top of the largest pine in our yard. This shot was taken through two panes of glass, at a healthy angle and is certainly not a clear picture.
But this time, it isn't the picture that matters so much. It's the story.
First, a question: do animals appreciate beauty?
Now for the story: Throughout the last several years, I'd often be sitting at my usual spot on the sofa and look up about sunset from either my book or the TV. My eyes would always land at the top of the pine. It is a natural spot to see. In fact, from where I sit, it is the only spot that I can see.
Many of those times, as the sun was setting in the west, I'd comment on a bird sitting atop a branch, facing west towards the sun. I'd often mention it to Dad. "The bird's there again," I'd say. "He's enjoying the end of the day," Dad would reply. "He's watching the sun set."
And so the bird would sit there, oftentimes for half an hour or more. How often to you find a bird sitting on the same branch for that long, seemingly transfixed by a sight? It is not his nightly roost; he always moves on before dark.
There have been countless times when a bird (this bird?) has been sitting there as the sun sets and I remember mentioning it countless times to Dad. He'd always smile when I told him the bird was back.
I've never seen a bird sit there at other times of the day. Nor have I seen one sit there when the sunset was masked by clouds. But on those precious evenings when the sun sets clear and fires brilliant hues through our back door, I'd look up and see the bird. He is usually motionless, almost always facing west.
Is this just a prelude to finding his roost? Is it an end-of-day ritual? Or does the bird relish the sunset as much as I?
I write these words on Father's Day, the first time in 60 years when I've not had my father to share the scene with. Gone for only 25 days, I, of course, thought of Dad when I saw the bird sitting there last evening at sunset.
"Dad, he's back," I'd like to say.
But I can only share it with you this year.