Sunday, January 26, 2014

On Goldfinches


A flock of Goldfinches have been visiting us over the last few days.

I never get tired of watching birds at the feeder.  Usually this winter we have been limited to black capped chickadees, nuthatches and the odd woodpecker.  But when the goldfinches arrive...

Why it's like a party!  They are like long-lost relatives who show up in their finest clothes, they can't stop dancing and they eat you out of house and home!






A flock of about 20 of them are feasting regularly at the feeder and we love them...

Of course, that got me to thinking about another Goldfinch I am obsessed with lately, Donna Tartt's wonderful book, The Goldfinch.  I finished the book a couple of weeks ago and it is still in my head, which is the sign of a really great book.




The Goldfinch tells the story of Theo, who survives a terrible tragedy that forevermore links him with the painting below, The Goldfinch, painted in 1634 by Carel Fabritius.  The painting was recently on display at The Frick Museum in New York City and I know some of you got in to see it, which must have been wonderful.  I guess I will have to catch it back in Europe!




The book is enthralling and a page turner, but slightly long at 784 pages.  I am no literary genius like Donna Tartt, but I thought that her editor might have had a bit more of a go with it.  Having said that, the painting, with the goldfinch chained to the wall, is a fitting metaphor and the book is wonderful.

I thought about the little bird above while looking at the birds out my window this morning.  I love all things bird:

Little pictures and paintings:


dinner plates:



Why this spring I will even wear some yellow shoes in honour of my little bird friends:



But I never wanted to have a bird in a cage.  To me the delight is watching them dart about, flitting this way and that, revelling in their freedom. 

“When I looked at the painting I felt the same convergence on a single point: a glancing sun-struck instance that existed now and forever. Only occasionally did I notice the chain on the finch's ankle, or think what a cruel life for a little living creature--fluttering briefly, forced always to land in the same hopeless place.”


If you haven't read this book, I highly recommend it.  Meanwhile, I am going to be content, on this fine Sunday morning, to look out the window...


Have a wonderful Sunday and stay safe out there!

44 comments:

  1. Oh Donna Tartt would wipe the floor with her editor if she tried to do a scythe job! The goldfinches are beautiful little things, I love watching the beds and squirrels here too.

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  2. I too like to watch the birds and they are ever so happy when the food is out. I seem to lose a lot to the squirrels though. Much love.

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    1. Oh the squirrels have been here, too! But I kind of like them messing around down below - some of them are so fat!

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  3. I'm reading this book right now! I am absolutely loving it. I'm reading it on my kindle which I find easier when reading a long book... easy to hold so I can lie down and read.
    Finding such an engaging book is pure bliss!

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    1. I love reading my kindle in bed. I just finished a YA novel last night, and am ready to move on to the Interestings, but have been side-tracked by 1776. I am done The Custom of the Country and am all set for Feb 1st

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    2. Starting Custom tomorrow, crammer!

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    3. Finished Custom yesterday and it's now my favorite Wharton. Thanks Dani for bringing it to our attention. Interestings was one of my best reads last year though not to the level of Goldfinch and Life After Life. You will love it, WMM. Isn't it cool that Fabritius is now getting much-deserved recognition? At par with Vermeer and Rembrandt but his limited body of work due to his early death kept him under the radar.

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    4. HI Marie - I loved Custom too, but damn that Undine! I think it is wonderful that Fabritius having his place in the sun!

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    5. GF it sounds weird to say that a Wharton novel could be crammed but this one can, I found it a real page-turner. I take no credit for the title, it was our GSL who suggested it to me in an email, isn't he the clever one!

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  4. What pretty little birds! Which shoes are those, Wendy?

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    1. Oh kikis bought last fall on some super sale, not yet worn - waiting for florida or summer!

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  5. I loved that book too. In the end, I slowed my reading to savour each word. Pity we will have to wait another decade for a follow-up.

    Love the spring kicks. We need some cheery reminders that we won't always be frozen in!

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    1. Jen - I felt like that about the last 10 pages especially. I read them three times!!!

      It's funny - I got those shoes for $50 back in November and didn't think about them at all till this morning as they are so obviously summer shoes and I have no idea why J Crew released them and the pink ones for fall, except perhaps for our southern hemishphere pals!

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  6. TWEETY BIRD Feathered friends, book, shoes all have me in a happy flap. Thanks WMM!

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    1. You can use the cheering, given how hard you are working lately!

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    2. It was a bright spot while I slog away at press releases and budgets. Wish I could do yellow, like a girl from Ipanema. But even on my feet, sickly.

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  7. I've adored Donna Tartt since her first book was published in 1992. I'm confident that we'll still be reading "The Goldfinch" in fifty or 100 years. And loving your avian flashes of yellow!

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    1. You know what? This was my first Donna Tartt and I can't wait to go backwards and start reading the rest!

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  8. I am always looking for a new good book -- thank you for the recommendation!

    I am trying to convert to the kindle, and now order my "just for fun" reads on it, but for books I suspect I will want to keep and reread, I still lean towards the physical copy. This one seems like a keeper.

    We have a bird feeder as well, and I love seeing our chirpy little birds every day -- as do our five (indoor!) cats. We have two pairs of cardinals that live in our yard year round; we love them. The problem is our squirrels -- I love them too, but they empty the feeder out too fast. We have a squirrel-free feeder but our little guys are tricky and they LEAP out onto the outside wires and swing until food falls out! So we have to refill about twice a week which seems a little excessive. Between them and our cats, I think we keep our local pet store in business...

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    1. Audreys - it is hard to stay mad at the squirrels, but my husband is not so accommodating as I! I like the kindle (and kindle app on my ipad) for the kinds of books you mention, but also for BIG books like The Luminaries and The Goldfinch. I am a great lover of reading in bed and it sure facilitates that. And if truth be told, it also lets me make the font size larger...

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  9. I am going to save this for a holiday or for easter I think. I heard the museum exhibition in new york is a sell out partly due to the book. I was obsessed with birds as a kid but less so as an adult...but funny this book is getting great reviews but a few people say it could have done with 100 less pages?

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    1. It is a conundrum, isn't it? I loved the book, I didn't hate any part of it, even the parts that I thought could have been shortened, but I did wonder why it was allowed to go on in some places. The power of the author I guess, as Tabs says!

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  10. I'm not sure I have the attention span to stick with such a long book. It would need to be an "on holiday book", so life didn't interrupt. I love watching the birds play and splash in my bird bath. I can't feed them because Lucy eats the seed from the ground and makes herself sick, poor dear.

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    1. Oh poor Lucy! Indy ignores the seed and the birds - he is on squirrel patrol and cannot be dissuaded from his task!

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  11. I have yet to read this; have you read her " The Secret History"? Loved that one. Also didn't make it to the Frick--we like to go there when we visit, but just haven't been. We could have seen Vermeer's pearl earring girl, too.

    Our birds get hulled sunflower seeds, so spoiled. If you stand with a few in your palm, very still, sometimes a chickadee will dare to snatch one.

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    1. Lane - we are hulled sunflower seed people too, which is why we are popular! It is expensive, but is quite worth it!

      I haven't read any more Donna Tartt yet, but plan to do so ASAP!

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  12. I loved that book so much, and am still thinking about it too. Now my husband is reading it, and he commented as I had thought that it reminded him a little of The Catcher in the Rye.
    How lovely to have a little bird feeder to watch the birds. I try not to encourage the birds at our place - we get flocks of native parrots and they are so noisy and fight each other all the time. But we do get Siberian Swallows in Summer, which literally do fly down to Australia from Siberia to escape the cold there.
    Love the yellow Kiki's - I have a pair of yellow ballet flats and a bag that matches too, but I tend to wear it in Winter - a great lift when wearing a lot of grey and black.

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    1. In fact, I've just looked out my window to see the damn parrots eating all my figs on the tree. They always get them before they are properly ripe!

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    2. Heidi - I would love parrots in the trees! Around here we get crows and they are just as noisy and very smart!!! I am off to go look up Siberian swallows!

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  13. I did managa to go to the Frick to see the exhibit (coldest day ever but at least I had bought the ticket in advance so no line outside!) and loved that little bird. What is more striking IRL is the gold painting on one of the wings. I even bought a reproduction but now I can't find a frame for it (I thought that a frame I already had would work but it is too big. The girl with the pearl earring is absolutely mesmerizing, really a masterpiece.
    I started the book but then had to move on to my bookclub book (meeting is this week), The Interestings by Meg Wolitze which is very enjoyable too. I can't wait to start over!

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    1. Ema - you and I read them opposite - I am just starting The Interestings now! I wish I'd got down to the Fricke, but since I am desperate to go back to Europe and The Hague, well, there you go - an excuse!

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  14. I only started to read again this year and I intend to keep it serious as I love reading so much. But I don't think it would be reasonable for me to target such a book for now. I will still put it on my list as it sounds interesting. We don't get many birds around here... I need to start to feed them more seriously to get a chance to see some...

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    1. Steph - I am with you! I read this and the luminaries back to back and at 1600 pages between the two, it was quite a go! I am going smaller for a bit!

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  15. Those goldfinches are so pretty. We are enjoying feeding the juncos and cardinals from our deck. There is also a cheeky squirrel who visits and the birds fuss at him. Something fun to watch in this dreary season.

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    1. We love juncos - had some nesting with us last spring and they are the most sociable of birds! Agree about the fun of watching them all - brings life to winter!

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  16. I finished S and have Luminaries on my Kindle. Not time to take on another long read just yet. So easy to look out at the birds as they fight to get to the feeder in the blustery winds we are having in our back yard. I am not even trying to get to the car!

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    1. I am still working my way through S can only do a chapter at a time as it is labour intensive!

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  17. Those goldfinches are so lovely! We mainly have doves in our outside tree, and a neighborhood hummingbird who hangs out.

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    1. I miss my hummers! Can't wIt for them to come back!

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  18. How nice of you to out out birdseed for them! It must be so hard for them to find food when everything is covered by snow!

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    1. and so cold! I am about ready to invite them in!

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  19. Those shoes are rather jolly!
    I confess I've not yet read any of her work. Fiction is not my thing at the moment. But next trip to the book munger I'll be having at look at it for sure.

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Kindness is a virtue...