Aug 19, 2007

An Introduction to Melisse Lee

By Liz Adair

Today I’d like to introduce you to Melisse Lee, the newest member of our writing group here in Northwest Washington. She’s a Texas transplant of about two years and lives ‘upriver’ from me. You will see from this vignette why we’re so delighted to have her with us. Melisse writes:

Greetings from Birdsview--a small community of homes that borders State Route 20 east of Sedro-Wooley, Washington. As the name suggests, we have an abundance of wildlife. I'm a bird watcher as well as a writer, a gardener, and a genealogist.

Beyond the backyard fence a tangle of blackberry bushes houses a variety of familiar birds. I often watch them from my deck. A shrill "jack, jack, jack" and a flash of blue announce the arrival of a Stellar Jay. Perched on the fence, he bobs his head several times and flips his tail from side to side. His striking dark crest and sapphire blue body make him one of the showiest in the neighborhood. He glides down to scavenge under the rhododendron bush for treasures uncovered by last night's windstorm. When several more jays attempt to join him, he swoops off to light in one of the tall trees beyond, clutching his prize in his sharp black beak.

The jays aren't the only colorful residents. Some of my feathered friends are splashed with raspberry, orange or buttery yellow, although the majority of the birds wear more subtle colors. The chickadees prefer the casual look. Their jaunty black caps and scarves nearly cover their white cheeks. They zip in and out of the trailing vines of the thicket, looking for tasty morsels, or they opt for the feeder instead. The sparrows have the largest family in the community. By sheer numbers they often take over the feeders, pushing and shoving the chickadees and black-headed juncos asides. Although not as stylish as the chickadees, a few of the sparrows add fashionable dark crowns and ties to their costumes.

With her tail cocked high above her head, a tiny brown wren clutches a thorny vine. She is the busybody of the neighborhood. Her beady black eyes dart in every direction as she searches out suspicious noises and watches for family squabbles. I suspect she is also a gossip; I often hear her stuttering song ring out through the garden and thicket.

A spotted towhee floats down from an overhanging limb. She resembles a common robin, but she has a brilliant white breast with only a fringe of robin-red along the edge. In her search for food, she investigates a pile of debris, turning over a moldy leaf with her beak. All the activity has drawn an unwelcome visitor. Only a few yards away, a gray and white tomcat skulks along the fence. He inches along, belly nearly touching the ground. The alert towhee gives an alarm, and the residents of the thicket take to the air, bringing my morning bird watching to a close.


  1. Lovely, like a breath of fresh morning air, your description brings a love of life. As I watch and listen with you, Melisse, I'm almost tempted to become a bird watcher.

    Welcome, and thanks for pitching in--though I do miss Liz.

  2. Thanks, Melisse. I have a 9 year old son that announced when he was about 3 that he wants to be an ornithologist when he grows up. He used the word, too. I am going to show him your essay. It is so beautiful.


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