COUNTRY ECHOES

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R. R. 2, Brandon, Wisconsin 53919

Winter set in very early in Wisconsin, and at this writing seems quite irreversible. We have already had several below zero days as December begins.

The bird feeder needs constant refilling, and Joe's metal bird bath has a white cap before winter has even showed on the calendar. Long before Christmas our chipper cardinal was presenting himself daily as a creature both of Holiday brightness but also natural instincts. He needs to eat to live.

Yesterday morning, when I ambled to the kitchen to start breakfast for my husband and myself, I was greeted by the sight of five Bluejays battling over their share of our varied assortment of 'bird breakfast.' Each one of the five were trying to play 'KING ON THE HILL.' Some finally settled for the crumbs which fell from the victor's table. And then a surprising thing happened. With the accuracy of a guided missile in zoomed a Ladder-backed or Red-Bellied Woodpecker. All my scrapping Bluejays fled as though Mr. Woodpecker was 'the Menace from Venice.' (Oh dear! The poetry is coming out in me again.)

My blue callers didn't give up easily, however. They would attempt to peer over the edge of the feeder. But one threat from that strong bill of his sent them flying back to the safety of their separate limbs in a nearby tree. When Mr. Ladder-Back left, back flocked all the Bluejays, a Nuthatch or two, some Juncos, the Hairy and Downy Woodpeckers, and our beautiful lone Cardinal. Last winter we had a couple of females who came along. Maye they have gone in for Women's Lib and are too independent now. The Sparrows, of course, come in droves.

Right there the Bluejays became the rulers again and all the smaller, flitty birds settled for the crumbs from the coveted table. It was a constant panorama of power and submission, and it was a good Sunday morning sermon. I came to the conclusion they are so very much like humans humans who are trying to rule others, and others who have to be content with crumbs.

Somehow, we learn through the years to make something worthwhile of the crumbs, gathered patiently together and stirred to cohesion by the oil of love. It is in living and letting others live as well that we make the world work.

We also learned a valuable lesson this winter in appreciation of a gadget we thought we had no use for. This is how it is in our family. Christmas sometimes brings us gifts we look at with a certain doubt. 'Will we ever use this?' we ask ourselves. Such was a blender given us by one daughter and husband, probably four or five years ago. Our age, and our penchant for gaining weight won't allow many malts. It stood there (often in the way) until a bachelor son of some friends gave us a recipe, a very simple recipe to be sure, but for a most satisfying breakfast dish.

I reached inside a counter door, measured out 2/3 of a cup of farm-grown wheat, and washed it. Then I measured a strong 2/3 cup of water into the blender and turned it on, eventually on the highest speed. Next 2/3 cup of water went into a saucepan with a little salt, and turned on the burner. By now the blender was shut off and I was in business.

Cook the mixture on low for ten to twenty minutes and you have a good hearty cereal with no additives. This measurement is enough for the two of us. It may need a bit more water.

I was very content with less than sunflower seeds as I sat down to breakfast. It was good to be a peacemaker, I felt, rather than scrapping for the prize.

At that moment, Mr. B. came hobbling in on his crutches. He came home from the hospital two days ago after having his right knee joint partly replaced with plastic and stainless steel. He is doing well. By the time this is printed he will be going back to the hospital for a hip redo on the left side, God willing.

So this winter may prove to be a quiet one for us. But friends and neighbors will be calling. We have good living facilities. Surely all our sunflower seeds and crumbs are blessed by God. I will add a poem to brighten your day.