Promise of Bluebirds(蓝知更鸟的希望)

时间:2014-07-15 00:24 作者:未知 点击:

Promise of Bluebirds

The Pennsylvania-landscape was in severe wintry garb as our car sped westover the interstate Ul The season was wrong, butI couldn't get bluebirds outof my head.

Only three weeks before, at Christmas, Dad had given me a nesting box he'dmade: He had a special feeling for the brilliant creatures, and each spring heeagerly awaited their return. Now I wondered, will he ever see one again?

It was a heart attack. Dad's third.

When I got to the hospital at 2 a.m., he was losing the fight. As the familyhovered at his bedside, he drifted in and out of consciousness.

Once he looked up at.Mom sitting beside the bed holding his hand. "Theywant me to let go," he said, ':but I can't. I don't want to."Mom patted his arm. "Just hold on to me," she murmured.

The next morning the cardiologist met us in the waiting room. "He's stillfighting,"the doaor said. "I've never seen such strengthMy youngest brother was only five when Ileft home 30 years ago. Relation-ships between my brothers- and sisters had become -frayed because of dis-tance and commitments to our own families. But Dad needed his childrennow, so we stayed at the hospital. During the long vigil, we reminisced aboutour years at home.

A miner, Dad had not had an easy life. He and Mom raised six kids at a timewhen coal miners eamed as little as 25 cents a ton, and he loaded nine tonsa day. Even now, I'm sure we don't know most of the sacrifices they madefor us.

I remembered Dad's hard hat, its carbide lamp showing a fine pall of coaldust. Dad's graygreen eyes seemed large and wise as an owl's in his black-ened face. They often sparkled with devilment when they met yours inconversation. .

Each evening he came home, eager to take up his crosscut saw or clawhammer. Dad could chock a piece of walnut on his lathe and deffly tum outa beautiful salad bowl for Mom. He could build a cherry fold-top desk withfine, dovetailed drawers as easily as he could fashion a fishing-line threaderout of an old ballpoint pen.

Dad bought our plain, two-story house from the coal company and immedi~ately began to remodel it. Our house was the first on the hill to have anindoor bathroom and hot water. He spent one summer digging out the clay-filled foundation to install a coal furnace. We children no longer shivered inour bed-rooms on cold winter mornings.

We loved to watch him work. When Dad needed something, we ran to getit. If we called it a "thingamabob he would say, "That's a nail set" (thetool for sinking the head of a nail below the surface of the wood). "It has aname. Use it."Dad carried a spirit of craftsmanship into every job and expeaed the samefrom all six children. Each job had its claim on your best efforts. And evertool had its name. Those were his principles, and we lived by them just aSDad did.

His playful spirit would set us to giggling-like the time he was buildingfireplace in the back yard. He sent us to look for the "stone-bender" he needeto make the comer stones fit more evenly. "Guess I'll have to bend theiamyself," he said when we retumed empty-handed. We saw the sparkle in.bijeyes, and knew we'd been had.

Sitting in the hospitalwaitting room, I thought back to an afteon in Dad'sworkshop several years ago..He was retired by then, but he kept busy building beautiful furniture, now for his children's homes. A volunteer naturalist,I was eager to tell him about the help bluebirds needed.

When the early settlers had cleared forests for farmland, I explained, blueLbirds flourished, nesting in fence-posts and orchard trees. But their habitatwas disappearing, and now the birds needed nesting boxesDad listened as-I spoke, his hands gently moving a finegrained sand-paperover a piece of oak. I asked him if he would like to build a box. He said hewould think about it.

Several weeks later he invited me into his workshop. There, on his workbench,sat three well-crafted bluebird nesting boxes. "Think the birds willlike themT'

he asked.

"As much as I do,"I replied, hugging him. Dad put up the boxes, and thenext spring bluebirds nested in his yard. He was hooked.

Dad became quite an expert on the species. Bluebirds, he would say, areharbingers of hope and triumph, renowned for family loyalty. A pair willhave two or three broods a year, the earlier young sometimes helping to feedthe later nestlings.

The presence of his children must have boosted Dad's spirits after his attackbecause he grew stronger and left the hospital on Valentine's Day WhenI visited my parents at the end of March, Dad was confined to the downstairs.

But I noticed that he paused longer and longer at the windows facing theback yard. I knew what he was hoping to see. And one day a bright flash ofcolor circled the nesting box closest to our house.

"Well, it's about time the rascals showed, don't you think?" Dad said.

Sporting a resplendent blue head, back, wings and tail, a male bluebird sanghis courtship song so passionately that we dubbed him "Caruso," after theItalian tenor. A female appeared, but rejected the nesting box. Caruso foundanother in the field below the yard. He circled the new box, singing feverishly.

She remained aloof on a distant perch.

Dad was walking more and more each day as the love story unfolded. Icould see strength coming back into his wiry frame.

One day Caruso battled a rival for the female's attentions. Then she foughtan even more vehement battle with another female. Afterward she resumedher haughty. stance while he fervently continued with his rapturous repertoire.

Suddenly one exquisite morning, when the sky mirrored Caruso's courtingraiment, she flew back to the box nearest the house and inspected itthoroughly. Caruso hovered nearby and sang blissfully as she finally acceptedhim.

Shortly thereafter she proceeded to lay one egg a day until there were six.

Caruso fluttered outside, defending the nest while she incubated.

Dad was now well enough to go outside, but he still couldn't reach the back-yard. He asked us to check inside the nesting box once a day. When we'dreturn, the questions came. "Is she on the nest?" he asked. "Have the eggshatched? Did you see that showboat what's-his-name?""Caruso, Dad," I replied. "He has a name, you know." Dad's sly grin re:

flected the devilment that had returned to his eyes.

When the eggs hatched, we marveled at the herculean efforts Caruso andhis mate expended to capture insects for their brood. Nestlings must be fedevery 20 minutes.

Near the end of May, the fledglings left the nest. By then Dad was able towalk to the fields beyond and see what other bluebird news there might be.

Mom and I would watch him from the kitchen window. "He gave some-thing to those bluebirds," she said quietly one day. "Now they've given itback."

蓝知更鸟的希望

我们的汽车奔驰西行越过州界,宾夕法尼亚州一派严冬景象,时令不正常,可是我对蓝知更鸟一直不能忘怀。

就在三周前圣诞节那天,爸爸把他自己制作的一个鸟巢箱给了我。他对这些色彩鲜艳的小生灵怀有特殊的感情,每年春天他都热切地期待它们归来。现在,我不知道他是否还能再见到一只。

心脏病发作,这是爸爸第三次犯病了。

凌晨两点我到了医院,他浑身瘫软无力,家人守候在床边,他时而失去知觉,时而神志清醒。

有一次,他抬头望着坐在床边握着他手的妈妈说:“他们想要我松手,可是我不能松,我不想松。”

妈妈拍着他胳膊低声说:“攥住我吧。”

第二天早晨,心病学专家?候诊室遇见我们,这位大夫说:“他仍在搏斗,我从来没有见过意志这样坚强的。”

30年前我离开家的时候,最小的弟弟才五岁。后来因为我们居住相距甚远,而且都忙于自己的小家庭,所以兄弟姊妹之间的关系不够亲近。但是如今爸爸需要他的孩子们,因此我们来到医院,在长时间守夜期间,我们回忆起在家时的岁月。

爸爸,一名矿工,以前没有过安逸的生活。他和妈妈养育六个小孩,而当时煤矿工人收入非常低,生产一吨煤炭只挣25美分,他一天要挖九吨。就是现在,我肯定我们也不知道他们为我们做出了多少牺牲。

我记得爸爸质地很硬的帽子,帽子上燃烧碳化物的照明灯上覆盖着一层细细的煤炭粉末。在爸爸黝黑的面庞上,一双灰绿的眼睛像猫头鹰的眼睛一样,显得很大而充满智慧。在交谈时与你的目光相遇,他眼睛里经常闪耀着恶作剧的神情。

每天傍晚他回到家,就饶有兴致地拿起横切锯或爪形拔钉锤。他能在车床上卡上一块胡桃木,熟练地给妈妈制作一个漂亮的盛色拉的碗。他能利用旧圆珠笔制作钓鱼穿线用具,同样能毫不费力地制作带有精巧楔形榫抽屉的樱桃木的、桌面可折叠书桌。

爸爸从煤炭公司买了一所简易两层楼住宅,然后立即进行改造。

我们这所住宅是小山上第一家设有室内浴室和使用热水的,他用了一个夏季的时间挖掘全都是粘土的地基,装起了煤炉,冬天寒冷的早晨,我们孩子们在卧室里再也不冻得发抖了。

我们喜欢看着他干活,爸爸需要什么东西,我们跑着去取,如果我们把那件东西叫作“某东西”,他总说:“那是敲钉子的工具(把钉子楔进木头里的工具)”,“它有个名字,叫它的名字。”

爸爸干什么活儿都讲究技艺,而且希望所有六个孩子也同样做。

每一件活儿都要求你尽最大努力,并且每件工具都有名称。这些是他的原则,正如爸爸按照这些原则办事一样,我们也按照这些原则办事。

他爱开玩笑的态度常使我们咯咯发笑。像那一次,他在后院修建壁炉,派我们去寻找他所需要的所谓石头折弯机,以便把边角石块砌得更平稳。我们空手而回,他说:“看来我只得自己把石头弄弯喽。”我们看到他眼睛里闪耀的神色,于是知道我们受骗了。

我坐在医院候诊室里,回想起几年前在爸爸车间里的一个下午,那时他已经退休,但是还不断地忙着制造漂亮家具,是给他几个孩子家里制作的,作为一个自愿研究动物的人,我迫切地要把蓝知更鸟需要的帮助告诉他.

我解释道,早来的移民砍伐森林开垦农田的时候,1蓝知更鸟就成群结认地在篱笆桩和果园树上筑巢,但是它们酣栖息衄越来越少,如今,蓝知更鸟急切需我沈话时爸爸着,向手接住二张细粒沙纸在二块栎来上轻轻地摩擦,我问他是否愿意制作巢箱,他说他愿意考虑。

几个星期后,他邀请我到车间去,在工作台上放着三个制作精巧的蓝知更鸟巢箱。“你认为鸟儿喜欢它们吗?”他问道。 …“像我一样,非常喜欢。”我紧紧拥抱着他回答说。爸爸支架起巢箱,于是第二年春天蓝知更鸟便在他院里落了户,而他也迷上了蓝知更鸟。

爸爸成了这种鸟的行家里手,他常说蓝知更鸟是希望和成功的预言者,它们家族成员的忠诚出了名,一对蓝知更鸟一年下两三窝蛋,早孵出的幼鸟有时帮助喂后来出壳的雏鸟。

爸爸犯病后他的孩子们都来了,这一定提高了他的情绪,所以他精力刚刚恢复就在情人节那天出院了。我于三月底去看望父母,爸爸被安置在楼下,可是我注意到,他在窗前向后院伫立的时间越来越长了。我知道他盼望看到什么。一天,有个色彩鲜明闪亮的东西,在紧靠我们房屋的巢箱周围盘旋。

“喔,大概坏家伙们该露面了,你认为是不?”爸爸说。

一只雄蓝知更鸟炫耀着华丽蓝色的头、背、翅膀和尾巴,唱着求爱的歌,他唱得那样充满感情,我们仿照意大利男高音歌手的名字给他起了绰号叫“卡鲁索”。出来了一只雌鸟,但是她拒不进入巢箱。卡鲁索发现另一只雌鸟在院子下方田地里,于是他围绕着那个新巢箱狂热地唱歌,可是她远远地停在栖木上。

随着爱情故事的展开,爸爸一天天越来越能走路了,我看到他瘦长结实的身体逐渐强健起来。

有一天,卡鲁索为了吸引雌鸟的注意和一个对手交战。她却同另一只雌鸟进行更加激烈的战斗。后来,他使出浑身解数,继续热情地进行吸引对方的狂喜表演,她却恢复了傲慢的姿态。

突然,一个气候宜人的上午,天空中映出卡鲁索求爱的衣饰,她飞回离房屋最近的巢箱,并且进行了彻底检查。由于她终于接受了他的要求,卡鲁索在附近翩翩飞舞,极其快乐地唱着歌。

此后不久,她开始一天下一个蛋,直到下了六个,她孵蛋时卡鲁索在外边振翅保护巢箱。

这时爸爸已经恢复到能走出房门,但是还不能走到后院。他要求我们一天检查一次巢箱,我们回来时他提出许多问题,他问道:“她在窝里吗?”“蛋孵化了吗?…‘你们看见那个叫什?名字的家伙表演了吗?”

卡鲁索,爸爸,”我回答说,“你知道,他有名字。”爸爸满脸滑稽地咧着嘴笑,他的眼睛里又表现出爱开玩笑的神情。

小鸟出壳后,卡鲁索和他的配偶付出极其巨大的努力为幼鸟捉虫,我们对此感到惊奇,幼鸟每20分钟必须喂一次。

将近五月底,刚会飞的小鸟离开巢箱,那时爸爸能够走到田野里更远的地方,去看看其他蓝知更鸟可能有什么新闻了。我和妈妈常从厨房窗口望着他。“他给了那些蓝知更鸟一些东西,”有一天她轻轻地说,“现在他们已经回报。”

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