elfscribe5 (elfscribe5) wrote,

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A Birds' Eye View

About six weeks ago I had a unique opportunity to observe wildlife up close and personal when a dove built a nest on the top of a column, just under the eaves of our porch, right outside my office window.
The nest is about ten feet away on an upward diagonal from my desk, so I can see her with perfect clarity.  As I sit here and work I can look up and notice what she is doing.  I watched her patiently brood the solitary egg for about three weeks and saw the male dove show up periodically to give her a rest and get a chance to eat.  I didn't see the chick actually hatch but saw the proud parents feeding it on the first day.  It was an ugly scrawny thing with a voracious appetite.  Again, both parents helped to feed it.  I watched the strange convulsive dance that both baby and parent do, as the parent regurgitates whatever bug bits it has partially digested into that perpetually wide open juvenile beak. The baby grew so rapidly I could almost see it happening before my eyes. Within a week, it had become a full-fledged dove.  I watched it sit on the support beam beating its wings preparing to fly.  I named him Hamlet. I have no idea why.

Then came the moment when baby Hamlet decided to go for it.  He flew right off the beam SMACK into the window where I was watching and dropped out of sight.  I cried out, "Oh no!" jumped from my chair and ran outside fearful of finding a dead bird on the porch.  But . . . sigh of relief . . .  he was okay, just a little dazed.  He got up and flew off. 

I thought that was the end of the story, but he returned that evening, so did the parents, maybe for a farewell reunion, and then yes, the next day he was gone and so were they.

I must say I felt a little bereft.  The friendly little presence, the reminder that we are not the only creatures in the world, was gone. 

I thought that was the end of the story.

About three days went by, then mom and dad dove returned and proceeded to copulate in a flurry of wings and vocalizations right by the nest where they had recently said goodbye to baby Hamlet.  They disappeared again for several days.  Then yesterday, mom reappeared and now she is sitting on another egg. 

I had thought of posting something about the birds several times, but didn't for various reasons of distraction, and I realize now that if I had, the story would have been slightly different depending on when I chose to tell it.

It occurred to me that a story takes meaning depending on when we decide it ends.  This one could have ended with the parents dutiful brooding, which would have been bravely expectant, or when they successfully brought baby into the world, which would have been cute and fluffy.  It could have ended with the baby flying into the window, which would have been tragic if it had died, both for me and for it, or a triumph with a bit of humor, since he did in fact survive just fine, just had his first lesson in the school of hard knocks - literally.   Or it might have ended on a slightly sad but that's-the-way-life-is note as the whole family departed on a new adventure and I was left with empty nest syndrome.  But in fact, the story now ends with a new beginning and a reaffirmation of the continuity of life.   It strikes me that this, in microcosm, is like our lives or the lives we write about.  When we write a story, we slice into a little bit of the great continuum and thereby attempt to make meaning out of something that contains all those meanings and more and none. 

The saga continues. . .     

Tags: musing

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