birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.


It seems like a lot is happening, but actually nothing is happening. First thing, we’ll put the bird feeders out. There are eight of them: tall ones with squirrel baffles stocked with seeds for the finches, square ones with suet for the woodpecker, flat dishes of mealworms for the bluebirds. We’ll hang them along the porch where Bob can see birds from his chair. He’ll be awake, and one of us will help him from the bed to the wheelchair, and then from the wheelchair to his chair.

Those transfers, always fraught, are what the day consists of; if something goes wrong it could mean a fall, a 911 call, strapping volunteer firemen coming out to the house to lift Bob because we cannot, and the various repercussions of wounds and tears and bleeding. We’ll feed the cats, each one requiring somehow a different food in a special location to deter them from eating each other’s. We’ll get Bob the local paper from the driveway and try to get him to eat some yogurt. We’ll sit on the porch as the day starts to heat up. Bob will probably fall asleep. We’ll get him his pain pill at 10 am, at 2 pm.

At some point he’ll call on the intercom to go to the bathroom: two more transfers. He might return to his bed instead of his chair, turn up the television very loud with a car show, or a golf tournament. One of us might run to town for groceries, wine. One of us might go upstairs to try to settle some insurance paperwork. We’ll sit on the porch again, eat hummus for dinner, drink pinot grigio. Bob might have some pudding. We’ll take in the bird feeders so the bears don’t come. As it gets dark, the fireflies will come out, lifting from the grass. We’ll split the night calls, and after I take Bob to the bathroom at 2 am, I’ll take a long walk around the dark neighborhood trying to calm my mind, wondering what is happening in any of the other houses with lights still on.

Of Course You Can't

Discipline to Run