Abigail Thornbuckle stood watching the birds at the balcony feeders. There were Sparrows, Chickadees, a Purple Martin, a Tanager and even a pair of Cardinals. She loved watching them, though she was careful not to go close to the window.
She remembered the house at the very edge of the city, where she and |Ambrose had lived for so many years.
The bird feeding had begun early in their marriage while they were landscaping the backyard. Abigail had notice the wide variety of birds in the fields beyond their property, and said “Ambrose, do you think we set up feeding stations, and bird houses around the yard, they would come to feed, and live here? It would be our private live theatre. I would love to see them while I’m doing the housework and you’re away at work.”
“That’s a splendid idea, Abby. We could even fix feeding places for the squirrels and maybe chipmunks, and racoons and such. We’ve plenty of room, even after I enlarge the back porch. Then we could sit of an evening and watch them take their evening meal. And thin of how beautiful it would with all the colourful birds.”
“Oh Ambrose let’s do it. The colours would be lovely, and thin of the birdsong!” She had clapped her hands in joy, and ran over to hug him. And so they had made their backyard into a sanctuary. They had enjoyed the sounds and sites for over sixty years, even more after Ambrose retired. But then he had developed pneumonia, and was gone.
Their son and daughter helped her through that trying time, and convinced her to sell up and move into the city, where things would be more convenient. Abigail realised that they were right. She couldn’t continue to live here alone; she was too far from stores, church, and her doctor. She was pleased when the young couple who bought the home were excited over the backyard sanctuary, and quite ready to keep it up.
Now she lived in a nice neighbourhood in Winnipeg with a park only two blocks away. All through the good weather, she walked to the park daily, taking bread, seeds and other things to feed the birds and squirrels. She enjoyed sitting in the picnic shelter, her walker beside her, and see again the wonderful live theatre she’d enjoyed before.
She even went at least three times a week during the winter, as long as the sidewalks were cleared. One day in November, she found a young man camping out in the most protected area of the shelter. His clothing was good, but worn, and he looked sad, worried and hungry.
“Hello, young man,” she said. “I hope you don’t mind if I join you here, I come to feed the birds and little animals. We used to have a sanctuary in our backyard when my husband was alive. The young couple who bought the place are keeping it up. Sometimes my son drives me out to see it. They are taking such good care of my old home, I’m glad they bought it.”
“Uh – no ma’am this is a public place, after all. I wondered why so many birds, squirrels and chipmunks made this a stopping place.” He smiled, and his face changed. He almost looked like an angel. They sat for a while talking, while Abigail threw the food around. At last, she stood and said goodbye, determined to come back more often to see that he had at least one decent meal a day.
“Good afternoon, ma’am, I’ve enjoyed talking with you.” he gave a slight bow, and touched his forehead. “I’ve enjoyed our conversation, too,” she smiled. I’ll be back. She walked off pushing her walker and mulling over what he had told her of his life and problems.
Through the month of November and o into December, Abigail went to the park, taking sandwiches and other things for Henry, as her new friend was called. She started to have an idea of how she could really help him, a job he would do well at, and would set him back on the path to success.