When You’re Smiling

July 7, 2018


When you’re smiling, when you’re smiling
The whole world smiles with you
When you’re laughing, when you’re laughing
The sun comes shining through

Larry Shay, Mark Fisher & Joe Goodwin, 1928


Yesterday a Carolina chickadee had to get on me about the outrage of a days-empty bird feeder. Quoth she, knowing I was just inside the house: ‘See-be-see-bay. See-Be-See-Bay. SEE-BE-SEE-BAY. CHICKADEEDEEDEE!‘ Heaving a sigh, I went out to do the right thing by Madame Chickadee and those she represents. As I filled the feeder, she declared harmony restored, with a cheerful stream of chickadee talk, very near my ear. I couldn’t help but respond, ‘Oh, you darling. You sweet, adorable, little darling!’ Upon which a male voice from just the other side of the board fence replied, ‘Yo!’ Evidently he had been resting in the shade, little dreaming of such an affirmation.  Then he started his mower back up, and I fled flame-faced into my house.

chickadee 003.jpg


But wait, there’s more.  Picked up the paper, and there’s a headline: ‘Thomas Jefferson had passion for bird-watching.’  I already knew he was an avid naturalist, that he kept a mockingbird in the White House, name of Dick.  That Dick whistled merrily, had free wing of the place.


What I did not know is this–Jefferson’s own testimony as to his bird-watching:  ‘My method is to make two observations a day, the one as early as possible in the morning, the other from 3. to 4. aclock … I state them in an ivory pocket book … & copy them out once a week.’


Thank you, Gary Clark, for bringing this to my delighted attention.


One more smile, this from my sister, who makes her observations of winged creatures via camera, and ‘states them’ via email.  Here, some particularly beautiful brown eyes:




“Always remember that you are absolutely unique. Just like everyone else.”

-Margaret Mead, American anthropologist (1901-1978)







Author: Phoebe Dishman

Phoebe H. Dishman was born and raised in Beaumont, Texas. She is a wife, mother, and grandmother. An essayist and poet, she teaches adult Sunday school, compiles a monthly prayer calendar, edits the Big Thicket Association quarterly bulletin, and keeps a keen eye and ear open for birds.

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