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  • Writer's pictureSunbird Smith

The Little Virtues

A certain kind of escapism gripped many this spring during the first lockdown -- watching garden birds. So many of us who were far removed from "The Twitcherhood" settled down to the simple pleasure of watching nature flit about.

I must admit, I’ve learned very little about birds in the process. Rather, they have become a flight path of sorts for my mind to ponder things less gloomy.

At first, the shade of Covid was tempered by the thought that even if humans were wiped from the earth, our little feathered friends would enjoy the marching back of climate change and live the good life.

Rather than learn about birds, I focused my attention on humans and the role we play in this pandemic. I nerded out on scientific papers. Simultaneously, I immersed myself in novels with strong characters and all the behavior that keeps us an unpredictable species.

Birds. And books. They seem inseparable to me. Birds inside my head are not just “birds”, but, all the imagination and thoughts that are left to wander freely when given the time to do so. I hope these books and cards can give you a little of that.


“Our dreams are never realised and as soon as we see them betrayed we realise the intensest joys of our life have nothing to do with reality. No sooner do we see them betrayed than we are consumed with regret for the time when they glowed within us. And in this succession of hopes and regrets our life slips by.”

These words from ‘The Little Virtues’ by Natalia Ginzburg made me stop and think a bit this morning. The imprisonment, torture and death of her husband during the Fascist years and her intense participation in politics to make change happen contribute to a profoundness we cannot directly know but add a prism of light that can be generalised in looking at our own lives.

Her observations in these essays are not just that. Ginzburg is wickedly funny with her deadpan look at all the quirks of humankind.

Read more about this book here.

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