WhatFinger

The wren interrupted my reverie

Ta-Wit All You Want


By —— Bio and Archives--October 17, 2018

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CAROLINA WREN
I’ve never asked Gene “Spook” Knight a question about birds he couldn’t answer. The Audubon Society should bestow upon him an honorary Ph.D. degree. Then he would be Dr. Knight, son of “Doc” Knight, the beloved University of Mississippi football team’s trainer for so many years, who patched up countless gridiron warriors and sent them back on the field to render opposing warriors in need of patching up by their trainers. Recently, my neighbor Mrs. Munn, Spook, and I were having a backyard chat, and I described a bird.

.

“He’s rust-colored, with white streaks over his eyes, a rapier-like beak, and makes a loud ‘ta-wit-ta-wit-ta-wit’ racket.”

“Probably a Carolina Wren,” Gene said.

“He’s not an overly-friendly feathered fellow,” I observed.

“Why do you say that?” he asked. I explained.

Mrs. Munn, whose friendship I’d enjoyed for a long time, was past eighty years old, and although she still got around as well as she wanted to, didn’t mind if someone took a few extra steps for her. So, each morning and afternoon, I walked down to the street and got her newspapers. During my paper-fetching strolls, the wren flitted from branch to branch nearest my path, glaring with bellicose, beady black eyes, and harassed me — “ta-wit, ta-wit, ta-wit.”

I’ve always been a fair mimic, and having listened to the bold little bird for a while, I began responding.

The first time I answered, the wren cocked his head sideways, glared at me quizzically, ruffled his feathers furiously, and resumed his racket. Sometimes he would ta-wit two times; sometimes, three; sometimes, four. Noticing this, I would ta-wit back the same number of times. Back and forth to the street, this became our daily routine, which I explained to ornithologist Gene.

“Are you saying y’all talk to each other?” When I nodded affirmatively, Spook stared spookily, and edged away from me. I could tell he wanted to ask Mrs. Munn if she felt safe having me as a neighbor. The old lady had gotten used to my oddness, figuring, I suspect, too many torrid summers in Mississippi Delta cotton fields left me a little loony.

“I wish I had never struck up a conversation with him,” I continued. “It’s got so I can’t even enjoy piddling in my garden without having to put up with his annoying noise.”

“This world would be a mighty sad place if birds didn’t sing,” he said.

Lounging in the yard later that day, Spook’s wise words reminded me of a Robert Frost poem, entitled “A Minor Bird”:

I have wished a bird would fly away,
And not sing by my house all day;
Have clapped my hands at him from the door
When it seemed as if I could bear no more.
The fault must partly have been in me.
The bird was not to blame for his key.
And of course there must be something wrong
In wanting to silence any song.

The wren interrupted my reverie. Little friend, I thought: Ta-wit all you want.


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Jimmy Reed -- Bio and Archives | Comments

Jimmy Reed is an Oxford, Mississippi resident, Ole Miss alumnus, Army veteran (Vietnam Era), former Mississippi Delta cotton farmer and ginner, author, and retired college teacher. His short story anthology, Boss, Jaybird And Me, is available at Squarebooks.com (telephone: 662-236-2262). His latest collection of faith-based short stories, entitled One Hundred By Five Hundred, is also available at Square Books (telephone: 662-236-2262) and at amazon.com. To receive Reed’s free weekly newsletter, send an email address to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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