They are outdoor affairs, They are always outdoor affairs. There is an affair for every season and whether the days are long or short, it is always a joyous occasion when my guests feast.
The table is long so many can come. The foods favored by many are spread wide around the table while the favorites of the few are placed in corners, still easily found.
The feast of the summer is the most elaborate. So many good things are in season. I chop and sort, mix and blend. I mold and shape to please the eye and then the palate. Some come to feast early, some come to feast late. It doesn't matter when they come, because they'll find everything ready. So they come and enjoy, they feast and they sing. All the warm days of summer the feast is served, fresh sweet berries, grains newly ground and hardy breads with a crusty crumb.
The guests are all arrayed in their finest. The colors of their garments range from tawny, heather browns, to velvety black against flecks of blue/green iridescents. Fluid designs run through soft colors,making the patterns on their garments unique to each wearer. There are those who favor red, those who favor yellow and those who favor patterns and speckles of each. A red soldier almost always arrives, in his smooth crimson with a matching crimson plume on his cap. His lady, equally elegant in her tones of terracotta with her crown, a plume of scarlet.
When the pageant and the feast for summer is finally over, sadly some take their leave, chasing the warmth of the sun. Such marks the end of one season and the beginning of another. The feast of autumn is soon to begin. The world of emerald green melts into more subtle but no less spectacular hues for the autumn feast. Soft and bright, sharp and pale is the palette of this season. The vibrant colors display themselves against clear azure skies. The crisp air is filled with the warm and spicy scents of the feast in preparation. Nectars from harvested fruits are melted to coalesce into dried spices and grains to be molded into cakes for the autumn guests.
The long table is set as it was in the warmer season. A generous harvest has given much to relish and there is plenty for those who come in this cooler season. The numerous types of grains are richer in their grind, the plentiful breads are softer in their baking, the former summer fruits are sweeter in their aging. The scent of many spices warm the cooler air and add a flame of flavor to the shorter days. As in the season before, some guests arrive early for the feast and some arrive later. It doesn’t matter, as all the guests find what they favor and enough to satisfy their appetites.
The garments of the guests remain exquisite though slightly more dense due to the cooler air. Many of their robes are soft browns and grays with the fluid stripes of white and black.While most of these are from the summer feast, the special guests of this season are the blue soldiers. They are also the only ones consistently boisterous.They seem to know how gallant they look in their suits of brilliant blue and lavender, with thin black bands neatly placed around their necks.Black plumes also don their caps that seem to bloom when they are at their most gregarious. Seemingly due to the powerful look of their appearance, they often bully others, pushing around the more humble guests. My only intervention is to assure them that there is plenty for all who have come by placing more dried fruits and grains at the table. My only job is to prepare and serve the feast, not to interfere with how they interact, though sometimes I wish I could. Before there is any problem, however, there comes the time of the first frost. The blue soldiers see this as time to depart and the autumn feast comes to an end.
The winter feast is probably the most challenging as a need for extra warmth and comfort is more acutely felt. Only the most hearty of the guests usually appear. As bareness fills the landscape, and cold winds blow, the challenge is to provide plenty in the appearance of bareness with enough warmth to last through the longer nights. Though bright and glistening are the days, with the trees heavy with lacy bands of snow and the grounds covered in icy blankets, there is still warmth that only the cleverest of my guests find. The red soldier returns, him and his hearty mate. The feast also draws another robust troop of soldiers. Their uniforms are black with vests of white. They are many, but never seem to have need to bully or squabble. They seem to take only what they need in gratefulness. My table is full even in this harsher season, though the fruit is a little drier, the bread a little harder, there is the addition of fat filled sweetmeats to add some weighty warmth to foods of the feast. Watching the soldiers of the black and white seems to teach the other guests that endurance is possible and the feast remains peaceful and in a sense, joyful as they depart with the first thaw of spring.
The spring feast is a time of fresh and newly sprouted things, nothing dried or preserved is served at the long table. The fresh menu is inspired by the return of the main soldiers of the spring. They lead the charge into the season with their garments the color of charcoal, and a chest covered in crimson. They trumpet their song announcing their presence and call to their faithful mate to come away, to build a nest and begin the spring by starting a family. Anyone familiar with these gray and crimson soldiers, known as Robins, know they are the front line harbingers of spring. These particular guests make the spring feast special slightly more than the other birds, yet all of the other types of birds that attend the feast are seen by me as wondrous beings.
The red soldiers or the cardinals are regal in their appearance and their visits come mostly at the spring and winter feasts. The black and shiny blue soldiers or the Grackles come to the spring feasts mostly. They are awesome and almost frightening in their powerful appearance. The large soft beige robed attendees or the morning doves, attend all the feasts except the winter. Their soft coos and unabashed cuddling with their mates make them a favorite symbol of peace and love. The blue soldiers or the Blue Jays come less frequently than the others, they’re visitors to the autumn feast and even then they don’t remain long. It’s as though they don’t have time to spend anywhere for too long. In this, they seem to relish their freedom of choice.
The soldiers in uniforms of black and white called Juncos show their strength without force against another. During the winter feast it was not unusual to watch them shovel snow away from their food. They show resilience in the adverse environment.
Last but not least are the little ones whose garments are tawny brown or soft gray with running patterns of black or brown making each one unique. The Sparrows come to all the feasts as my most frequent and entertaining guests. They are numerous, yet the Creator says in his word that He is mindful of each and every one of them.
As for me, I marvel how close their wings can take them to heaven, while their eyes can still discern so much on earth. I marvel how in the spring, their feast is provided in a far more extravagant way than I could ever provide, as the Earth abundantly provides for them. Yet, they come to my humble table, eat and even seem to thank me for the meager contributions I offer them at my feast.