Friday, June 3, 2011


When I was about 10 years old, I saw an unfamiliar bird in the parking lot of the church we attended.  As I watched the bird, I found its nest.  The nest was built in the rocks at the edge of the parking lot.  It seemed an unlikely place for a bird home and there were eggs! Excited at my discovery, my mom took me to the library to research this bird.  I came back proud to tell everyone that it was a Killdeer and that they are frequenters of parking lots and tend to build their nests on the ground.  Kindly, the people at the church built a small barrier around the nest to prevent it from getting run over or trampled and I was forever bonded to the Killdeer as if I'd discovered the bird myself.

Fast forward twenty years or so and I was experiencing a particularly difficult day at the Arboretum.  It was hot and I had just been introduced to my new nemesis, the weed whip, also known as the weed wacker, the string trimmer or weed eater.  When a five feet, ten inch, 160lb person operates this machine it looks light as a feather and easy to maneuver.  Take away ten inches and 60lbs--not so much.  Suddenly the machine becomes a vibrating, oscillating, heavy nightmare, whipping a plastic slicing string around and making holes in the yard, covering all passersby in grass and weeds, while tearing the bark from 40 year old Oaks....ahh the excitement of a second career---curse all those women who never have to find a second career or even a first for that matter....and there I am with my hand in a spasm, and my arm on fire, when my boss tells me the next assignment: to take the Saw and cut up 3 inch diameter tree limbs so that they can fit into the bed of my three speed pick-up/dump truck.  All of this before I have realized that on a Horticulture saw (as compared with a carpenter's saw) all the power is on the pull.  (This would've been helpful information I think)...And so I'm feeling sorry for myself, my sore arm and my life choices as I pull into the parking lot of the Brickyard.

Flying ahead of me as a drive is a bird.  Faintly familiar, I think, "Is that a Killdeer?!"  It is!! I haven't seen one in five years, maybe ten.  But there he is, in a parking lot, running along the gravel in spurts.  And I smile.  After I deposit the branches, I stop for a few minutes to see if I can find its nest. Not far away I see what must be its mate and think, "Maybe she is guarding babies!"  But while they run this way and that, they never settle on one area where a nest might be.  The male and female Killdeer are difficult to tell apart, but during the next event, I become keenly tuned into who is who...The female bird stands still for a moment.  The other bird jumps on her back. (Truly! Standing right on top.)  Suddenly I am a witness to something I was not privvy to the first time I met the Killdeer, at age 10.  A few seconds later, each bird is skittering through the parking lot, showing no sign of real interest in the other. (We could make a human comparison here, but let's not...)

I smiled to myself as I headed back to the garden for the next round of weeding and watering.  The birds served as a sign for me that day:  Life is not just a series of accidents and we have not fallen off course.  Lots of times things are the way they are for a reason. There is a natural cycle to life that we are a part. Most of the time we are not forgotten and just when we think we are, there are memories and visits from old friends.

1 comment:

  1. I love how you write and insight you draw from your experiences. I smile every time I read your stories. I am just picturing you with those tasks and I can't help but laugh!! You are precious. Love you, Mom