When I bought my condo, I knew there would be more building, but I didn’t quite imagine the monolithic, light blocking, traffic-cramming onslaught of new buildings that would surround me so quickly. There’s construction all around, including on railway bridges that pen me in, and not enough in/out points, and sometimes getting in and out of my neighbourhood feels like some hint of a dystopian future like that Dr Who episode where everyone is trapped in space traffic jams forever and ever, breathing toxic exhaust. (Was that a real episode or did I dream it?) I said last week, after it took me more than an hour to travel 6 km across the city, that sometimes it feels like my home is surrounded by a moat filled with claw-jawed monsters.
Of course, it’s even more inhospitable to birds. Before work started on the building across from me, I was watching a pair of killdeers that seemed to be nesting in one of the few trees on that lot. Then they plowed the trees down to dump construction trailers, and I wondered if the plovers had found a place to go.
I still love my actual condo, and have retained much more of a view of the lake than I expected, brilliant sunsets half the year. (Not right now). A couple of months ago, I saw an owl flying into the trees in that park, soft brown patches on the wings instantly making me feel lighter as I rushed off into my day. And yesterday, walking back from the metro, I noticed something I hadn’t seen before.
On the lone tree on the edge of the construction zone, someone had hung a bag of birdseed and a small feeder.
The feeder was empty, but as I watched, sparrows repeatedly darted at the bag. I tried sitting on the rock quietly, my groceries spilling out around me, but I was too close for the birds’ comfort. So I stepped back, and as soon as I was a few metres away, they came back.
Lousy iphone photos, but a moment in my day where I appreciated human noticing, human care, the kinds of touches that remind me that there are always threads of human connection, even in this frustrating urban geography.