JMWW

My parents’ next-door neighbors keep binoculars on their window sill, next to a Birds of North America identification booklet. In the center of their lawn, an orange extension cord pumps electricity to a birdbath like a vein to a giant heart.

This is how my mom and dad can tell that Stan and Lisa are really serious about birds.

My parents are fascinated by this sudden pursuit yet unwilling to join, as if to do so would necessitate crossing a threshold. Today, they watch their neighbors watching the birds, watch Stan unhinging birdfeeder roofs and scooping birdseed, watch Lisa hanging suet in the maples, almost tripping over the family dog at her feet.

From their windowed vantage point, my mom and dad hold mugs of coffee and lean in close, their rings sometimes tapping against the glass.

How did they get so old? My mom asks.

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When I was…

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