The afternoon sun hits my home office and our living room, so we had a hedge of thin bamboo trees planted to give us ample shade. We get it trimmed every four months to refrain it from getting tangled with the wires, such as our ISP’s fiber optic cable and our power lines, during typhoon season. The problem: the top half of the bamboo is always frequented by birds – it’s where they sleep, where they perch to take a dump, and where they do their chirping every sunrise and sunset, without fail. It came to a point that it has become like a daily spectacle for my family, a precise ceremony that wakes up my son every morning and concludes my last work-related meeting in the afternoon. Many passersby marvel at it: kids look up and approach our bamboo trees with wonder, while tricycle drivers sometimes slow down to look at the birds curiously. Colleagues, upon hearing it in one of our virtual meetings, were just green with envy, pining for the probinsya life. Once, one of the courier guys who delivered our dinner had to express his amazement in words: There’s a lot of birds here, sir! So when I decide to have it trimmed – usually by a handyman who used to do our plumbing – I always experience a pang of regret. This time was worse as some of the birds, like the chestnut munia ‘couple’ I saw last week who were collecting dried bamboo leaves (sometimes yanking them from their stems with their beaks, a joy to watch!) have just made a nest.
On the afternoon after we have the tops of the bamboo trimmed, at sunset, the birds were completely befuddled about the loss of their lounge area. They would try to hover around the tops of the bamboo, fluttering their wings to try to land on a spindly branch, and after realizing it was unlike the previous spot they were used to, go to nearby trees – perhaps in dismay – or simply look for other spots to roost in. If this is a heartbreaking thing to see over my window, what more about the trees cut at every single road-widening project in the country, and the bees and wasps and a host of other creatures I have no idea about that call it home? It’s a compromise, I tell to comfort myself: in the next few months the bamboo will grow again, and the birds will be able to reclaim their lounge spots once again. Hopefully by then they can make their nests, hatch eggs and train the fledgling just in time before the typhoon season begins.