At first glance, this one might not be immediately obvious – a marble and a pile of bird seed. This is, of course, the point: we don’t always recognise the things that are objects of importance until we know the story behind them, the little details specific to their existence … their context.

My wife, Amanda, and I have a mutual appreciation for nature. We grow wild flowers in our garden instead of annuals, our 30’ cherry tree is a precious Mecca for wildlife that we tend and fuss over, and we take care to encourage as many little visiting forest buddies as we can (except the skunks, who dig with such enthusiasm that our backyard looks like a post-war minefield). The most numerous and varied of those visitors would definitely be the birds: robins, starlings, crows, black-capped chickadees, mourning doves, gold finches, cardinals (two families of them), blue jays, white-throated sparrows, downy woodpeckers, dark-eyed junkos … even a Cooper’s hawk one time.

To us, they’re a kind of ‘object of importance’ as they enhance our environment and our subsequent enjoyment of it year round. In order to encourage their daily visits, we’ve hung many a feeder filled with both seed and suet. No surprise, residents and migrants alike visit the feeder with the black sunflower seeds in it the most.

We have to back the story up for a moment so you understand the importance of the second part, the marble. Since moving into this house nearly five years ago, we’ve cleaned up all the old bits and pieces the previous owners had left behind. The gardens, the lawns, the gutters – they had all accumulated the detritus that a family inevitably leaves and loses throughout the years. There’s nothing left from the“before time”, not unless it’s buried really deep (where it can stay, to be honest).

So, with a made over property and no children to speak of, we have no toys or kid things lying about. However, we have now amassed a rather impressive collection of marbles. Not from the gardens or the driveway or even the neighbours yards, but from the birds.

A couple of times each year, a new marble will appear out of nowhere directly beneath the black seed feeder. They’re almost always swirls or glassies, and never big boss shooters. It can’t be easy for them to transport these dense little spheres to their favourite fly-through restaurant, so they must be important objects somehow. We don’t find them under any of the other feeders nor in the gardens, just under that one feeder. It’s as if they’re saying “thanks for the good stuff, have a shiny-pretty”. I suppose there’s another explanation for the random marble drops but we haven’t been able to come up with one yet … nor do we really want to.

They’ve become objects of importance to us, too.



Jay Terry is a portrait and commercial photographer in London, ON. He can be found at Jay Terry Photography or on Facebook, and he responds well when people come to visit … with pizza. Find him on Twitter and Instagram.