Saturday, 22 November 2008

A Broken Beak

At the Winter Feeder

His feather flame doused dull
by ice and cold,
the cardinal hunched
into the rough, green feeder
but ate no seed.

Through binoculars I saw
festered and useless
his beak, broken
at the root.

Then two: one blazing, one gray,
rode the swirling weather
into my vision
and lighted by his side.

Unhurried, as if possessing
the patience of God,
they cracked sunflowers
and fed him
beak to wounded beak
choice meats.

Each morning and afternoon
the winter long,
that odd triumvirate,
that trinity of need,
returned and ate
their sacrament
of broken seed.
~John Leax

What a lovely poem. I expect it must have been written on the basis of something the author had actually seen. How wonderful nature can be in so very many ways. For a long time, we had a sparrow coming to our feeder that had a lame leg. It hung off his side like a useless piece of flesh, but still it came and fed each day, seemingly not bothered by it's obvious handicap. None of the other birds were aggressive with this poor bird or pushed it away . . . in fact, it seemed that they deferred to him in every way. Perhaps his lame leg was a mark of some courageous deed he had done in the past . . . and they all paid homage to him . . . I shall never know.

Do we take the time in our busy lives to take note of our brothers and sisters who may have broken beaks, or lame legs . . . to help feed them some of the goodness with which we are so richly blessed to have in our lives. Do we share freely of our many gifts with those less fortunate than ourselves? Do we stop to honor those who have given much . . . in the way that they deserve?

I try each day to do small kindness's to someone, to anyone. It may be as simple a gesture as holding a door open, or picking up something that's been dropped . . . or as grand a gesture as bringing a pot of soup and a spot of conversation to an elderly neighbour who rarely gets out, or even a much needed few hours of your time to help them do whatever is needed to be done.

There is a small man that stands outside our local grocery store each week selling the Big Issue. This means that he is homeless. I always give him something, ever mindful of the fact that . . . there, but for the Grace of God go I . . . I, too, could be homeless one day, and I hope that those better off than myself would reach out in love to me too. Right now it is only a pittance that I give really, in the scheme of things, but I expect it means the world to him . . .

Simple gestures, small deeds and kindnesses, little acts of love. They all add up, and, in truth, bless the giver far more than the recipient. I may not have much, but I am happy to say that, what I do have, I would gladly share with anyone in need. I expect that's what we're really here for . . .

It's not a great picture, but this is that Lamb Tagine that I had put into the slow cooker last Sunday that I forgot to turn on. My goodness but it was delicious. It smelt rather odd, but the flavour more than made up for it!

*Tagine of Lamb With Prunes*
Serves 4

A tagine is a glazed earthenware vessel with a conical lid that is traditionally used in Morocco to cook lovely stews, full of spicy flavours. You can buy Tagines in most cook shops, but I don't really have a stove that lends itself to cooking with a tagine. I use my slow cooker instead, and I expect it tastes just as good, if not better! Spooned over some steamed rice with hunks of crusty bread on the side, this was a delicious meal . . . just perfect for these cooler days we are having now.

2 TBS olive oil
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground ginger
1 3/4 pounds of lamb shoulder, or 3/4 pound of leg of lamb,
trimmed of fat and cut into 2 inch cubes
2 onions, 1 peeled and finely diced, 2 thinly sliced
1 cup chicken broth
8 threads of Spanish saffron, toasted and crushed
(this helps to bring out the spices' essential oils and flavour)
15 fresh coriander sprigs, chopped
1 cup pitted prunes
2 TBs honey
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Salt to taste
Crusty bread to serve

Place all the ingredients into a slow cooker and give them a good stir. Cook on high for about an hour, then reduce the heat to medium or low and cook for a further 4 to5 hours, until the meat is very tender and you have a lovely fragrant and delicious sauce. Serve hot with chunks of crusty bread for dipping into the sauce.

*Note - if you don't have a slow cooker you can cook this by browning your meat in the olive oil along with the spices and then adding the remaining ingredients. Place the mixture into a casserole dish and then bake it in a slow oven (about 325*F) for several hours until tender and fragrantly delicious, making sure it does not cook dry and adding a bit more broth from time to time as needed.

Note to Marie : We got the new food processor at Curry's! It was a real bargain!


  1. Awww! I loved that poem Marie. It touched my heart.
    Nature is wonderful.
    Your lamb recipe sounds yumy. This is one I must try. I have plenty of prunes..must save up for the lamb though. It is so expensive these days! hahaha!
    Hugs to you..
    Love Jeanie xx

  2. I love tagines and I will try yours tomorrow in my tagine. I don't have prunes though. The last tagine I made had apricots.....maybe I should buy some prunes?

    I understand what you are trying to say. Today I was humbled. My children work at a community club and today they needed my son quickly so they picked up from his day out and sent him home on their bus and took him back to work! Anyway I was chatting to the driver and his two disabled passengers as my son scrambled to get ready to wash dishes for the restaurant tonight. The male passenger gave me two wool wrapped wire coat hangers in Christmas colours. The joy he had sharing was the gift. I am now hunting for a great idea to share with him.

  3. That's nice that the birds weren't mean to the other little bird. Hooray!

  4. Lovely entry and a great poem to boot. I had a picture email last week showing a similar situation if I can find it again I will send it to you. LOve Joan.

  5. A lesson so needed in these times. We are working with Griff on this and how it doesn't take much effort, time or money to make a difference.


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