03 July 2006

karmic justice

sideswiped by McBeth.

All I can say is this: when we actively make the choice to lie about something - before we open our mouths to let that first slippery word slide out - we'd best be sure we're willing to live with the consequences of the matter for which we are about to create untruths.

i.e., wanting to get your boyfriend to work on time so he won't lose his job = one thing. Making up a story to the police to make it look less potentially haphazard? Hmm.

mourning: dove

fly away home by McBeth.

I’m finding myself unexpectedly sad today.

I was shooting some self-gratification and record-keeping photos of what and where I had planted in the garden earlier this afternoon and accidentally disturbed the mourning dove father who, as I’ve come to understand, is the parent who sits on the nest during the morning/afternoon periods, later spelled by the mother dove who takes the later afternoon/nighttime shift.

The doves made themselves a cozy nest in the flowerbox immediately outside the back door of my home. I hadn’t planted the pink cascading petunias quickly enough into it and the day I had set in my head to get the flowers planted, well, those birds had agreed upon an entirely different use for my planter – and their idea won.

In an overnight operation they first hastily threw together some grass and discarded brushed-out cat hair into a nest-like pile. The day after the nest appeared, the eggs appeared: two tiny white eggs kept warm under mother or father dove for the next two weeks.

Last Thursday I carried my camera with me when I took a brief walk around the block, and when I returned from my mailbox I discovered the freshly-hatched first dove chick, its sibling not yet done with his or her own incubation. On Friday I peeked from a window to check their progress and found chick #2 fully hatched, nestled in next to the slightly larger, slightly more robust older sibling. Hurrah, they both made it!

Over the weekend I found a couple of opportunities to share the little bit I’d learned online about mourning doves with adjacent neighbors’ three granddaughters. They really wanted to play with my three cats, two of whom had escaped while I had been taking baby bird pictures with the door half-open, but the girls’ love/hate relationship with all-things-fanged-and-clawed made the petting too difficult and exciting to do without giving Puppy (the cat) a nervous tic, so I’d suggested that there were some wild birds that were not my pets but they’d be welcome to come look at the wild birds as long as we all could agree that we’d only use our eyes ~ not our hands ~ to see them. The girls agreed and we’d all tiptoed quietly over and they took turns being lifted up next to the flower box to see the new little lives growing in the nest.

The youngest granddaughter (oh, maybe 4 years old?) wanted to know if the birdies would bite her. Would they bite her with their sharp teeth? Why are they looking at us? Where’d their momma and daddy go? Why won’t the baby’s momma want to come back if we pet them? Her mouth couldn’t issue the ticker of questions as fast as her brain seemed to be tapping them out.. Later she announced that they were going to get cats and dogs. I asked her if her momma knew that they were going to have lots of pets. ‘Not yet, but we’re gonna. Because I like them’.

I watered the plants late last night and, as I stood in the dark with my hose spraying a cold stream of water over the white columbine and the pink pincushion flowers, the girls reappeared, asking if my cats could come out to play. It was past the kitties’ bedtimes, I said, but maybe the next time the girls were visiting I could bring one out if it isn’t too late. They asked to see the birdies instead and I said it wasn’t a problem as long as they remembered our agreement. Headsful of braids bobbed eagerly as they slowly approached the nest. Middle sister squealed about how cute the little birds were and she proceeded to show me the way she could jump rope three different ways. Shortly, they were off to the local fireworks with their family and we waved goodbye to one another.

In part I’ve been so eager to watch these mourning doves because I’ve never had the opportunity to have them nest and reproduce literally in my backyard, on the back of my home. In part, I’ve been so eager to watch these mourning doves because I like having that everyday piece of the natural world to share with the kids in my neighborhood, who for so much of the time are unsupervised or who just might be up to something naughty – who could possibly be redirected into something less troublesome if a grownup could simply notice them and give them a few minutes’ attention. In part I’ve been so eager because despite my increasing age there is still a wondering child alive and well in me, a young child whose grandmother used to say ‘Oh! Look at THAT!’ and she meant it sincerely: let’s look at this amazing thing together!

When I peeked into the unattended nest I discovered one robust young dove blinking back at me. Hello sweet little confused bird! But the second baby was no longer alive. There’s no clear indication of what happened or why it did not survive; its body had been pushed to the side of the flower box, out of the nest, and I imagine eventually the parents will fling it over the side for the four foot drop to the ground, where another animal will find a valuable and necessary use for it.

In the meantime, I’m trying to keep a healthy perspective about how nature works in the perfect way it should work- and completely without my interference. I’m awfully sad, though. I imagine it will be a hard thing to explain to three little girls who made a promise to me to be gentle with these wild animals that sometimes there are things completely beyond our control – even beyond the promises we make – that cause unexpected results and there’s no amount of discussion that can change them...

I’m not ready just yet to put my completely support and enthusiasm behind the remaining (surviving, healthy, lambchop chubby) little bird. Maybe in 24 hours I’ll feel less tired, less overcome. For now, I’m mourning the dove.

my baby love

double dove love by McBeth.

mourning doves, for their quiet beauty, have such inauspicious beginnings.

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