Wednesday, May 20, 2020

The Turtle Dove

We were eating lunch one day last week when I first noticed the turtle dove outside our dining room window. The bird would land, peck around our wood pile, then take flight again, finally landing in the nearby lilac bush. This sequence took place many times through the duration of our feast of leftover ribs, reheated baked beans and cold milk. 

That afternoon I sat outside on my laptop and worked in the sun while the kids napped. I am not a bird watcher by any means, but I was excited to recognize the turtle dove back again, busy as ever. I stopped my work in order to observe hers. 

She was picking up twigs and dandelions and taking them into the lilac bush to build her nest. Incredible! Piece by piece she plucked and placed. Sometimes she’d drop the twig or weed and would swoop down in a rush and try to find another. I slowly walked over to the bush to confirm my belief and saw the nest, quite large, resting on a branch. I got back to work so I wouldn’t bother her. 

Then I made the mistake of hosting a post-nap ecology lesson for the kids. We went outside and quietly (as quiet as 1 ½ and 3 ½ year olds can be….which isn’t) snuck over the lilac bush to spy on the turtle dove.

Sure enough, she was resting in her newly created home, sitting straight up and alert to the chaos on the ground. I swept the kids up and we went to the barn to pick on someone our own size: Daddy.

When I was preparing for motherhood and in the act of delivering our children, I didn’t have an appetite for fanfare. My mother even asked to come in and visit and I declined the offer. This wasn’t the time to ask me if I’d seen how nice the produce selection at Aldi had become. Minutes later, she was at my bedside, encouraging me. I’m not sure who let her in, but something tells me it was my husband who needed a break from the 26-hour ordeal. 

I guess this is why I’ve tried to keep the kids away from the turtle dove for a few days, while she hopefully prepares for her family. At every meal we talk about her and every morning Caroline is quick to run to the bush to see if she is home. It is not easy keeping curious minds and hands away from something so intriguing and special. 

Particularly when we need some new life around this place. We scraped a cat off the highway two weeks ago and on Saturday Caroline brought me a cracked egg in one hand and a feather-less baby bird in the other. I didn’t react well to her presentation. Another ecology lesson and much hand scrubbing followed.

I think, now more than ever, it is critical to help our children find the magic in ordinary days. 
To watch a bird build its nest or an ant fill up on dropped popsicle pieces or clouds evolve into shapes and animals in the sky. 
To enjoy ruining clothes in soil and gravel and sand. 
To feel soft grass on their tender feet and experience eating a grape tomato warmed from the sun. 

We should be cautious about what they see and hear. There are unsettling words, stories and images all around them right now. 

Caroline prayed recently, “God keep away the wolves, werewolves, coyotes, the virus and mean geese.”

I was taken back that she knew enough about the virus to ask for God’s protection from it. I was also curious about her experience with mean geese, but I decided to save that question for another day. 

So for now, we’ll shut off the damn news,

focus less on mean geese

and be more like hard working turtle doves

who have built their home

on visible hope for tomorrow. 

No comments:

Post a Comment