I was originally planning to make 2015 the year of the tree. We were going to explore and identify local trees by their leaves and bark, make a tree identification book, make crafts with acorns, pinecones, and other tree detritus, and sit in the shade of trees in the summer to read and soak in the warm air. But then I stopped and really listened to my son. He doesn’t clamor to read books about trees or talk about trees without my prompting. He rarely asks about the types of trees we walk under, though he can identify quite a few. But he begs to fill his grandparents’ bird feeder each day. He ran down their hallway on Christmas day, not to the tree and gifts left by Santa, but to the window at the back deck so he could open the curtain to see whether the birds needed more food. He spends hours upon hours looking at bird books, learning their calls, and identifying them. He patiently explains to his daddy what a grackle is when it lands on the feeder. He cracks up in laughter at the oven bird and teasingly calls it a toaster oven bird. And pure delight when he sees a cardinal and screeches “Gran’s favorite bird” loud enough to send feathers flying.
The year of the tree would have been for me. The year of the bird is for him. We will have a year full of birdseed crafts, bird watching with his brand new binoculars, reading bird books, feeding birds, and making a bird identification book. And through it all, I will listen closely to that boy. Really listen.