In years past, while Dad was still well, he took great joy in feeding a blue jay. Each morning he'd walk out to the garage, perhaps to dust the car, and he'd never forget to open a plastic bag of unsalted peanuts and lay a handful on the concrete bench on the back porch.
Some mornings, even while he was still in bed, we'd hear jay screaming from the treetops. "Peanuts!" he seemed to say. "It's time for my peanuts!".
I had not thought about Jay other than to note the number of jays has been increasing as winter approaches. But a couple of weeks ago, as I worked beneath the pines digging weeds, a jay landed high on a branch and began to call. I paid him no attention. But pretty soon he dropped down beside my head - so close I could have reached up and grabbed him - and let out a piercing call that nearly broke my eardrums. It was then I remembered Dad feeding them.
So when Mom and I were shopping last weekend, we bought a bag of unsalted peanuts still in the shell. One morning early this week I placed a few on the concrete bench. Within minutes a jay appeared and began taking them.
Each morning since, I have never failed to lay peanuts on the bench. Quickly we've heard Jay scream from the meadow and arrive for his treat. Yesterday I lay in wait in the garage, camera in hand (I left the door stand open) and aimed at the bench. Here he is getting his last nut.
But as I stood there and watched at close range, I noticed that there was more than one jay. As soon as one flew away, another landed. No wonder the peanuts don't last long.
Still, I will keep feeding this family, both for my own enjoyment and in memory of Dad. It made him happy to see the joy of the jays. It makes me happy, too.