My niece and I share our first name with a dear little bird called phoebe. So when planning a birthday supper for Phoebe it seemed fitting to make a centerpiece featuring birds. What a delight, playing with my treasures! See-through bird tower. Upended candleholder birdbaths. Clay pots—one squirrel-perch, one cave for a jeweled frog. Trees to frame the scene. Each time I passed the table I tweaked the tableau. I suppose there was some grocery shopping and cooking; there had to have been, right? But the heart of my planning was that centerpiece.
Came the night of the supper and two interesting things happened. First, niece Phoebe did a resurrection. She was examining the Walgreens cardinal, whose battery’s been dead for years. Suddenly the cardinal came to life, happily singing, twitching its head for emphasis. “CheerCheerCheer. PrettyPrettyPretty!” Thus encouraged, Phoebe and others laid hands on the blue jay. No luck there. Silent he remains, screws to his battery door frozen shut. But still he charms my heart, as he did that rainy day in Walgreens when first he spotted me with his electric eye and I heard him shriek, “JayJayJay! Beedleeyoop!Beedleeyoop!” With emphatic jerks of that noble plastic head.
Next interesting thing: after all were seated for dinner, my eye went to the centerpiece. It had been transfigured. Trees crowded the tower. Creatures all in different places. More creatures from around the house, including an AstroTurf rabbit and a stuffed mountain goat. Quoth the responsible party, five-year-old Amelia, “Look, Honey. It’s a forest!” Soon other hands, adult hands, crept toward the centerpiece, making other changes. “And a little child shall lead them.”
I hardly remember what we ate. But it was good.