A Christmas interlude

Published 1:41 pm Saturday, December 15, 2018

by Susan and Biff Andrews

It was a perfect afternoon/evening for a Christmas outing in Colonial Williamsburg last Saturday. Our family group of twelve gathered for a Christmas “Pops” concert by the Williamsburg Symphony and combined choruses of the city — excellent, by the way — celebrating the season. A lovely 68 degree late afternoon with a setting sun as we enjoyed some Williamsburg chardonnay afterwards at the visitor center in Merchants’ Square eased us towards dusk. And then we went back outside to walk the few hundred yards to our restaurant.

At the outdoor seating of a tavern or wine bar or restaurant along the way we heard tweeting. Not the presidential kind — the birdy kind. Sure enough, in a small tree (12 to 15 feet) there were about a dozen sparrows chirping their little hearts out.

Some passersby were stopping to appreciate them, though the diners seated nearby had obviously grown accustomed to the “noise.” Some good soul had placed a small pan of water at the base of the tree for the birds to wet their whistles. In such a small tree, they were highly conspicuous. And they chirped. And they chirped. And they chirped.

There were probably 500 to 750 people within 100 yards of them. They chirped. We stood within six feet of them. They didn’t mind at all. It was dusk and darkening — though brightly lit by holiday lights. They chirped and chirped and chirped some more.

I like to think they knew they were appreciated. I don’t care for crowds, even warm, fuzzy, cheerful holiday crowds. (Teaching 40 years in a high school with 1,300 kids and 200 staff will do that to a person.) So in the midst of a sea of holiday revelers, we communed — us and the birdies. Again, I like to think they knew they were appreciated, as the musicians had been at the concert with all the applause.

The Nativity did not take place at a shopping mall. It took place in a barn — with animals round about. Our Christmas family outing took place at Merchants’ Square in Billsburg, but the birds were there to remind us.

The music of the symphony and the chorales had been lovely, but the chirping of the sparrows reminded us of the reason for the season even more beautifully. Quite the holiday interlude!

By the way, for the record, I think they were chipping sparrows, but who cares?

SUSAN and BRADFORD “BIFF” ANDREWS are retired teachers and master naturalists who have been outdoor people all their lives, exploring and enjoying the woods, swamps, rivers and beaches throughout the region for many years. Email them at b.andrews22@live.com.