POSTCARD #183: Bangkok: I have to say that there’s not a lot happening here. One bird is tucked away down inside the ceiling fan wire guard and the other bird flies in with two or three longish springy lengths of leaf growth I can’t really identify. The seated bird inside takes the nest-building material in its beak, pulls it inside the enclosure and tucks it in around the space. The other bird watches for a while then flies away. In the photo you can see the long tail of the seated bird sticking up. The bird is inside the wire cage of the ceiling fan and the other one perched on top watching me take the photo.
Most of the day I’m sitting next to the glass doors of the patio, reading my book and a small flicker against the sky tells me when a bird is either coming or going. Strange how this whole thing is happening a second time… some years ago in Switzerland a couple of birds built a nest on the balcony and I encouraged this in the same way I’m doing now; next thing we had a whole colony of pigeons and doves, creatures of the air perched out there on the balcony among old discarded objects and summer furniture. I wrote a few posts about the experience, excerpts follow:
Switzerland, August 29, 2012: Awake at 4:00 AM this morning, came through and switched on the kitchen light; old style fluorescent neon tube-light, flicker-flicker flick. And a bluish white light everywhere with electronic buzz you don’t notice after a while. The light shines through the windows illuminating the balcony of this 7th floor apartment and the pigeons wake up. A very loud sound: croo-croo, croo-croo, croo-croo, croo-croo! So I switch off the light again and they’re quiet as soon as I do that. Now I’m sitting in the darkness, held back in my domestic activities by the wildlife on the balcony. What to do now? Can’t read my book. Stand there in the darkness, and it takes a moment to notice the silence the birds are in. I sit in my chair and fall into meditation state… first thing I’m aware of is entering the quiet space of the perched birds – so silent here, 7 floors above street level. There’s a presence around these birds in roost mode; it takes my breath away, winged animals, so close to me… metta loving-kindness to all beings. I can’t see them but I know I’m very close to a small family group inhabiting the balcony. Two adults and two young birds and there’s another one – the mysterious ‘other’ … the alpha male has taken a second wife? I’m saying this because in the evenings there’s often some extended flapping of wings as they get their places in the hierarchy settled for the night – it’s like who gets to be next to whom. I can’t imagine… return to mindfulness mode.
After a while, and maybe I’ve fallen asleep, the wing-flutter, flap gets my attention, in the light of very early morning. Then there’s an odd silence in the bird group out there; no wing-flap. I get up quietly and go over to see. They’re poised on the balcony handrail; all looking out, little necks extended, heads focused downwards on the space below; the great swimming pool of sky. Still no movement. Then simultaneously they burst into an instant wing-flutter-flap-flick of feather tip flip of flight, and they’re gone. As one unit they drop over the balcony and down. A moment later I see them swoop and swirl in a great arc in the sky then on eye level with this 7th floor and in a direct line away from me, they vanish in the distance.
‘… so with a boundless heart should one cherish all living beings; radiating kindness over the entire world: spreading upwards to the skies, and downwards to the depths; outwards and unbounded, freed from hatred and ill-will. Whether standing or walking, seated or lying down free from drowsiness, one should sustain this recollection.’ [from: Karaniya Metta Sutta]