時間︰2014-07-15 00:24 作者︰未知 點擊︰

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."

藍知更鳥的希望

我們的汽車奔馳西行越過州界,賓夕法尼亞州一派嚴冬景象,時令不正常,可是我對藍知更鳥一直不能忘懷。

就在三周前聖誕節那天,爸爸把他自己制作的一個鳥巢箱給了我。他對這些色彩鮮艷的小生靈懷有特殊的感情,每年春天他都熱切地期待它們歸來。現在,我不知道他是否還能再見到一只。

心髒病發作,這是爸爸第三次犯病了。

凌晨兩點我到了醫院,他渾身癱軟無力,家人守候在床邊,他時而失去知覺,時而神志清醒。

有一次,他抬頭望著坐在床邊握著他手的媽媽說︰“他們想要我松手,可是我不能松,我不想松。”

媽媽拍著他胳膊低聲說︰“攥住我吧。”

第二天早晨,心病學專家?候診室遇見我們,這位大夫說︰“他仍在搏斗,我從來沒有見過意志這樣堅強的。”

30年前我離開家的時候,最小的弟弟才五歲。後來因為我們居住相距甚遠,而且都忙于自己的小家庭,所以兄弟姊妹之間的關系不夠親近。但是如今爸爸需要他的孩子們,因此我們來到醫院,在長時間守夜期間,我們回憶起在家時的歲月。

爸爸,一名礦工,以前沒有過安逸的生活。他和媽媽養育六個小孩,而當時煤礦工人收入非常低,生產一噸煤炭只掙25美分,他一天要挖九噸。就是現在,我肯定我們也不知道他們為我們做出了多少犧牲。

我記得爸爸質地很硬的帽子,帽子上燃燒碳化物的照明燈上覆蓋著一層細細的煤炭粉末。在爸爸黝黑的面龐上,一雙灰綠的眼楮像貓頭鷹的眼楮一樣,顯得很大而充滿智慧。在交談時與你的目光相遇,他眼楮里經常閃耀著惡作劇的神情。

每天傍晚他回到家,就饒有興致地拿起橫切鋸或爪形拔釘錘。他能在車床上卡上一塊胡桃木,熟練地給媽媽制作一個漂亮的盛色拉的碗。他能利用舊圓珠筆制作釣魚穿線用具,同樣能毫不費力地制作帶有精巧楔形榫抽屜的櫻桃木的、桌面可折疊書桌。

爸爸從煤炭公司買了一所簡易兩層樓住宅,然後立即進行改造。

我們這所住宅是小山上第一家設有室內浴室和使用熱水的,他用了一個夏季的時間挖掘全都是粘土的地基,裝起了煤爐,冬天寒冷的早晨,我們孩子們在臥室里再也不凍得發抖了。

我們喜歡看著他干活,爸爸需要什麼東西,我們跑著去取,如果我們把那件東西叫作“某東西”,他總說︰“那是敲釘子的工具(把釘子楔進木頭里的工具)”,“它有個名字,叫它的名字。”

爸爸干什麼活兒都講究技藝,而且希望所有六個孩子也同樣做。

每一件活兒都要求你盡最大努力,並且每件工具都有名稱。這些是他的原則,正如爸爸按照這些原則辦事一樣,我們也按照這些原則辦事。

他愛開玩笑的態度常使我們咯咯發笑。像那一次,他在後院修建壁爐,派我們去尋找他所需要的所謂石頭折彎機,以便把邊角石塊砌得更平穩。我們空手而回,他說︰“看來我只得自己把石頭弄彎嘍。”我們看到他眼楮里閃耀的神色,于是知道我們受騙了。

我坐在醫院候診室里,回想起幾年前在爸爸車間里的一個下午,那時他已經退休,但是還不斷地忙著制造漂亮家具,是給他幾個孩子家里制作的,作為一個自願研究動物的人,我迫切地要把藍知更鳥需要的幫助告訴他.

我解釋道,早來的移民砍伐森林開墾農田的時候,1藍知更鳥就成群結認地在籬笆樁和果園樹上築巢,但是它們酣棲息衄越來越少,如今,藍知更鳥急切需我沈話時爸爸著,向手接住二張細粒沙紙在二塊櫟來上輕輕地摩擦,我問他是否願意制作巢箱,他說他願意考慮。

幾個星期後,他邀請我到車間去,在工作台上放著三個制作精巧的藍知更鳥巢箱。“你認為鳥兒喜歡它們嗎?”他問道。 …“像我一樣,非常喜歡。”我緊緊擁抱著他回答說。爸爸支架起巢箱,于是第二年春天藍知更鳥便在他院里落了戶,而他也迷上了藍知更鳥。

爸爸成了這種鳥的行家里手,他常說藍知更鳥是希望和成功的預言者,它們家族成員的忠誠出了名,一對藍知更鳥一年下兩三窩蛋,早孵出的幼鳥有時幫助喂後來出殼的雛鳥。

爸爸犯病後他的孩子們都來了,這一定提高了他的情緒,所以他精力剛剛恢復就在情人節那天出院了。我于三月底去看望父母,爸爸被安置在樓下,可是我注意到,他在窗前向後院佇立的時間越來越長了。我知道他盼望看到什麼。一天,有個色彩鮮明閃亮的東西,在緊靠我們房屋的巢箱周圍盤旋。

“喔,大概壞家伙們該露面了,你認為是不?”爸爸說。

一只雄藍知更鳥炫耀著華麗藍色的頭、背、翅膀和尾巴,唱著求愛的歌,他唱得那樣充滿感情,我們仿照意大利男高音歌手的名字給他起了綽號叫“卡魯索”。出來了一只雌鳥,但是她拒不進入巢箱。卡魯索發現另一只雌鳥在院子下方田地里,于是他圍繞著那個新巢箱狂熱地唱歌,可是她遠遠地停在棲木上。

隨著愛情故事的展開,爸爸一天天越來越能走路了,我看到他瘦長結實的身體逐漸強健起來。

有一天,卡魯索為了吸引雌鳥的注意和一個對手交戰。她卻同另一只雌鳥進行更加激烈的戰斗。後來,他使出渾身解數,繼續熱情地進行吸引對方的狂喜表演,她卻恢復了傲慢的姿態。

突然,一個氣候宜人的上午,天空中映出卡魯索求愛的衣飾,她飛回離房屋最近的巢箱,並且進行了徹底檢查。由于她終于接受了他的要求,卡魯索在附近翩翩飛舞,極其快樂地唱著歌。

此後不久,她開始一天下一個蛋,直到下了六個,她孵蛋時卡魯索在外邊振翅保護巢箱。

這時爸爸已經恢復到能走出房門,但是還不能走到後院。他要求我們一天檢查一次巢箱,我們回來時他提出許多問題,他問道︰“她在窩里嗎?”“蛋孵化了嗎?…‘你們看見那個叫什?名字的家伙表演了嗎?”

卡魯索,爸爸,”我回答說,“你知道,他有名字。”爸爸滿臉滑稽地咧著嘴笑,他的眼楮里又表現出愛開玩笑的神情。

小鳥出殼後,卡魯索和他的配偶付出極其巨大的努力為幼鳥捉蟲,我們對此感到驚奇,幼鳥每20分鐘必須喂一次。

將近五月底,剛會飛的小鳥離開巢箱,那時爸爸能夠走到田野里更遠的地方,去看看其他藍知更鳥可能有什麼新聞了。我和媽媽常從廚房窗口望著他。“他給了那些藍知更鳥一些東西,”有一天她輕輕地說,“現在他們已經回報。”

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