It seems I’m now someone who reads publications like “Birds & Blooms.”

I was given free subscriptions to several magazines of my choice last year. The only one I wanted was the bird one. The “bloom” part sounded nice, too. But as my friend Jane likes to say, “I realized it was either gardening or kids. Not enough nurturing in me for both.” Let’s all raise a glass to constrained nurturing.

Upon arrival, the photos left me breathless. Northern cardinals popped off the page so blood-red I swooned. Chubby yellow orioles perched, windblown and perfect, New York fashion shoot-worthy. Sweet little finches nuzzled into nests like porcelain still lifes. The coup de grâce was an outstretched robin, as if Michelangelo had just set the cast. I yelped at their sheer everything.

“Look!” I screamed to my family. “Look at these birds!” “They’re birds,” was the overwhelming response.

Nevertheless, I persisted. “Look at these birds (repetition being my main tactic). Don’t they move you? So gorgeous and small and capable and photogenic. Read their descriptions!” I shoved my evidence in their faces. “Huh.”

“Amazing, right?” feeling I was gaining traction. “Don’t you wish you were that free? Half as beautiful? One tenth as self-sufficient?” I finished with the big gun. “And could fly?”

Fact. No one cared about the birds. Then again no one cared about the birds — but me! What a joy to discover something you love that no one else (at least in your living room) loves! Suddenly I understood my son’s love for playing Terraria. And my daughter’s obsession with cuffed jeans. I didn’t give a fig about Terraria or cuffed jeans! But I loved that Flights of Love squatty, little, red cardinal.

If you don’t have a valentine this year, or someone who loves you and all your things, I offer this: Who gives a fig? Love it (and yourself) anyway. Strut out onto your perch. Lean into your perfect, windblown feathers.

Love with your whole, squatty soul.



Cate Berry is an Austin-based children’s book author and mother of two. She also teaches writing workshops for young people at




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