Many years ago while on a family road trip through Eastern Washington, we drove a winding country road from Goldendale to Bickleton. All along the way into this little town, bird houses were anchored on almost every fence post. Rusted barbed wire sagged between the posts, and resting on the wire were the prettiest little bluebirds I have ever seen. Bickleton is known far and wide as the Bluebird capital of the world, thanks to Jess and Elva Brinkerhoff. Seeing the birds on their own family road trip in the early 1960’s they began nailing bluebird houses to the posts in the early 1960’s,he bluebird population soars into the thousands, well above the 90 folks who call this remote town home.
My affection for bluebirds goes back even farther, to my childhood, when my mom led a Bluebird group, (young Campfire girls), for me and some girlfriends. I loved my navy blue outfit, complete with the jaunty cap with the light blue bird embroidered above the bill. I shopped at the JC Penney store in downtown Everett, where on the mezzanine, there was a selection of merchandise, all things Campfire. Pens and pins, skirts and vests, all with that darling little bird logo that I loved so much. I’m pretty sure I can trace my passion for collecting all things bluebird to this early beginning. I have linens with embroidered birds. I have dishes with sweet bluebirds nestled among pink blossoms. I have a bluebird breakfast set my mom discovered in an antique store in Aberdeen. I even have a Bluebird soda pop bottle a dear friend sent me from Kansas, where it was a favorite drink when she was young. Yes, I have a love for all things bluebird!
Can you imagine the thrill I felt when a bluebird couple visited my yard a couple of years ago? I was in my car, just getting ready to pull onto the road, when a flash of silver caught my eye. I turned the engine off, and crept around the back of my car. Yes, there she was. A soft silvery gray bird. I thought she looked just like a female bluebird, but it couldn’t be, we aren’t in their fly way. Then he zipped by. Her magnificent husband, all royal blue with a rosy breast. I had a pair of bluebirds in my yard! On that trip to Bickleton all those years before, I had purchased an ‘authentic’ bluebird house. White bird box, with a bright blue roof. The post I had attached it to was overgrown by an evergreen, it’s entryway obscured. I raced in the house, grabbed my hammer, pounded it loose, and moved it out into the open. Lots of room for swooping and flying in. The pair were not bothered by me at all, while she hopped about the grassy lawn, he inspected the birdhouses on my fence posts, and peeked in the window of our old shed, before resting on my rearview mirror. I watched them as long as I could, snapping pictures as they explored about, but the morning was slipping by, and I had things to do. I waved to them as I left, hoping they would take me up on my offer of a cozy homestead.
I’m sorry to report, they did not take up residence in my official Bickleton bluebird house. I was just a pit stop on their way to somewhere else. A friend told me they are working to reintroduce them in the San Juan Islands, perhaps this is where they settled down. I like to think so, and imagine their brilliant blue gliding above the blue salt waters of the bay on a warm summer day.
It’s no wonder these birds are the symbols of happiness. I keep the thrill of seeing them that morning, tucked in my heart and I look for them every year, just in case they fly by again. Perched on my mirror, it really was as if he posed the question, “Going my way?” and I would have to answer, “Yes!”