Sitting on the enclosed porch, with the door open, I can hear the thwupeta-thwupeta-thwupeta of the sparrows' wings, beating against the air as they come in for a landing below the porch eave and construct this year's nest. There is a wood-frame Christmas tree representation I affixed to the side of the house and it is at the pinnacle, where any Yuletide angel might stand, that they build.
Year after year, generation after generation -- each generation as intent and purposeful as the last. Do sparrows have a shared memory, some internal gyroscope that tells them the pinnacle of the Christmas tree is a safe haven or a good foundation on which to build their springtime lives and the lives of generations to follow?
Now and then, though the open door, about eight feet away in a small arborvitae tree, the sparrows catch sight of me sitting and listening and watching. They seem to be aware that I might pose some danger. They look skittish and, as I imagine it, somewhat irritable: What the hell is this interloper doing around here?! I am not about to try to calm their fears -- go inside so they can build at peace, perhaps. Birds are birds. People are people. Danger is danger. It's the way of the world.
But I do enjoy the companionship of an occasional thwupeta-thwupeta-thwupeta.