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.