While wandering through the Granary Burying Ground in the center of Boston last week I paused under the shade of a giant elm tree to enjoy the break from the noise of the city. Standing on the brick walkway about 20 feet from Samuel Adams grave, I watch people wander quietly among the sections of the cemetery seeking out the graves of some of our forefathers – John Hancock, James Otis, Paul Revere and others.
Dozens of sparrows make this little park-like greenspace their home. It doesn’t have water, other than where rain water may collect on the stones, and it doesn’t provide food for them, but they flock to this oasis in the sea of concrete and glass. Soft powder-like dirt lays along the edges of the walkways and between the bricks and stones. In quiet, untrodden corners of the graveyard it even forms shallow “pools” of soft dust.
Sometimes, quietly and all alone a sparrow will find one of these “pools” and enjoy a little grooming ritual I call a dust bath (I later found it on Wikipedia as “dust bathing”). I watch as first one sparrow and then others gather in a small corner of the walkway and begin to “bathe” in the soft dust. A little bird will roll on one side and then the other and move its wings around just like it would in water. A small dust cloud blooms around him and then he emerges – happy as can be.
I love that birdies make the most of what they have. They’re resourceful and happy in the midst of a city and a cemetery and with no water on this warm day. We should all be so happy making the most of whatever we have.