For the birds

We have a small waterfall in our back yard. All summer long it gurgles and burbles and lends a small portion of peace to our place smack dab in the flight path of the airport and mere blocks from one of the busiest traffic corridors in the city.

I love the waterfall. At summer's end, I lament the loss of the trickles of tranquility as the water is shut off, the pump put away for the winter. And winter has indeed come to my part of the mountains, despite the calendar saying it's still fall.

Yes, it's time to put the waterfall to bed for the season.

But Jim is rebelling this year, refusing to shut 'er down. He loves the waterfall more than I, spends more time fiddling with the rocks, the water flow, the chemicals to keep it clean, the daily clearing out the leaves and needles. And more time admiring 'the heads' he mounted at the top of the waterfall.

(If you read this post, you understand the significance of the 'the heads' in our lives. Despite the significance, I still groan regularly about Jim placing a miniature version of the national memorial -- courtesy of the darn Sky Mall catalog -- in our yard.)

So with temperatures falling well below freezing every night -- and during some days, too -- the little waterfall that could does ... keep flowing. Which I think is really stupid.

"What a waste of electricity," I say to my (usually) utility bill-obsessed husband, thinking that'll do the trick, show him how irresponsible and expensive it is to run the waterfall all winter. He just ignores me.

"You're going to burn out the motor," I keep telling him. It won't fully freeze up because the water's moving, he responds, adding, "And it'll look so cool when it freezes around the edges. Remember the one time it did that?"

Yeah, I remember. But it was a freak freeze, and we shut down the waterfall right after that.

Jim continues ignoring me, the water continues flowing and I continue thinking my husband's a nutjob.

Tuesday morning I let the dogs out and glanced over at the waterfall. It had frozen all around the edges, leaving only a small stream flowing down the rocks and a little tiny pool at the bottom. And in the stream and the pool were several birds, merrily splashing away, thrilled by their luck at finding fresh flowing water when all the birdbaths in the city surely were frozen.

It was a delightful sight. And once the birds flew off -- frightened away by Lyla and Mickey dashing out for their morning potty break -- the nearly frozen fall remained chillingly magical.


Much to my chagrin, I had to admit Jim was right. Just like the last time the waterfall froze, the icy sculpture definitely did look so cool.

Consider my tongue bitten. I'll back off cussing about the waterfall. I'll stop trying to convince Jim that not shutting it down for the winter is a really dumb idea. The water can flow, I guess, and I'll keep my mouth shut.

But I'm only agreeing to let it flow for the sake of the birds.

And in hopes that next time I'll be able to snap a few shots of the birds enjoying the unexpected deep-winter delight before the dogs frighten them away.

Holiday question of the day:

If you were to create and market an ice cream available only during the Christmas season, what flavor(s) would your concoction be?