I walked by a field, wide and open, and as I made my way on the cobbled path, I noticed there were only sparrows here. Why don’t more wonderful birds come here? I asked myself, It’s such a wide open field.
I called out to them, to the birds beyond the treeline, flitting around nearby crofts, soaring above cottages hid by hills. Why don’t you come here? It’s a very nice field.
At first they said nothing.
Going about their flying and pecking, why would they listen to an old child of Maba on a path?
I inquired again. Why don’t you come down to this field?
This time they flew closer and answered. Because it’s not a good field.
This managed to drum up consternation in me. How could they not see? I blasted back right away. What’s wrong with it?
They gave me the courtesy to say, Look, there are no bushes with seeds and no earth soft enough for worms and no water for the bugs to make counsel by.
When I looked at the field I saw this.
And so, to bring the birds to my field—for it was in my heart mine now—I set to plant and transplant bushes with seeds.
Just to see if one might be enough, I asked them to come to the field for the seeds.
You know how many things we need, they replied.
So I took to breaking up the ground, turning the earth to make soft patches peek out between the grass.
Then I asked if they would look at my work again.
You know how many things we need, child of Maba.
I surmised this would be their response.
This time I scanned the field, the places where the ground was broken up, the bushes growing in patches, and I imagined where a stream of water might be. I began my old man’s canal, but the work took many days, before it connected to the canal of young strong men bringing water from the river.
After weeks of defying Gerea and turning earth and begging water to flow my way, there was a fine and shimmering stream in my field.
I called to the birds again.
Their minds among the clouds spoke back to me, Thank you.
They knew before they got there I had done good work. The wisdom on wings comes through the language of the wind.
Jackdaws, thrushes, robins, and lapwings descended. They wrestled seeds from the cones of bushes and tore them from the carcasses of berries inedible. The lapwings waded across the stream and they deemed it good.
Then a kingfisher landed in a bush of mine by my stream. His brilliant cerulean said to me, Well done.
And then I knew the bush was his.
The bushes were the thrushes’ and robins’.
The stream was the lapwings’.
The turned earth was the jackdaws’ and the thrushes’.
None of it was mine any more.
And so I continued on the path and knew I would return some day to the field of the birds’.