In India, it was much easier to dispose left-overs since there were takers outside the household. That way, we redeemed ourselves the guilt of wasting edible food. But, when I came to US, things were very different. There was hardly any option for disposal of excess food, that eventually made its way to the dumpster. Every time I had to throw away unused food, my heart gave out a silent cry, for we were raised not to disrespect food. Well, all I could do was sigh! This was when I was living in my old apartment.
When I moved to my new house with a nice little backyard shaded by oak trees, I decided to hang a bird feeder on one of the branches and a bird bath next to it. For a very long time the birds were feeding from the grains that I refilled into the feeder, and unwillingly shared it with an uninvited guest, a squirrel, that was quite a boss himself. It is a joyful experience to learn the survival of the fittest, the teamwork and the unity in diversity lessons rendered by nature. I could watch them to no end as a silent spectator from my porch! Sure enough, my backyard was a source of sheer entertainment for our entire family.
It was one of those days, when I was going to throw the leftover lunch my daughter brought home that it struck me to dump it under the backyard tree that might be interesting for the birds or squirrels. True to my gut feeling, the bits of food that were strewn disappeared in no time. The backyard friends had had a feast on it! Probably they found it much tastier for the change in flavor from the usual. From that day on, it became a ritual for me to salvage food that had no takers at home and ship it to my extended family of birds and animals! Their choice expanded from the plain store-bought seeds to a wide variety of cereals, rice, bread crumbs, fruits and so on. How much better can it get, with food, water and rest in and around the oak trees? And there are all kinds – red cardinals, swallows, ravens, sparrows, hummingbirds and their arch rival, the squirrel himself! As more and more of my nature friends flock for food, little do they know their mere presence in the vicinity of my house is enough to fill my moments of solitude with meaning.