Our youngest child just turned four, and for the last few months she’s been completely smitten with birds. She sits on our porch in the city, waiting and watching. On chilly days, she watches through the door, but still she watches. She doesn’t forget, it’s a daily thing for her now, even just a fleeting moment as she skips to the car. She stops and whisper-shouts, “Mama, look!” And for a moment she freezes, awestruck by the simple, common sparrow that the rest of us have seen a million times.
In those moments, my heart swells with pride. Despite the fact that my baby growing up absolutely rips me to shreds, I can’t help but watch in wonder as she becomes this incredible little person. This tiny little girl who correctly identified the cardinal she spotted on my birding app, when silly Mama suggested a robin at her description. No, she insisted, red on his belly and his back. And she was was proved right when he reappeared. Somewhere, my grandfather smiled.
My grandfather passed his love of birds on to me at a very young age. He would take me around to look at his birds, and once even bought me two beautiful little song birds of my own, Lemon and Lime. They tragically killed each other, and my grandfather’s matter-of-fact handling of the situation allowed me to hold onto my love instead of trauma. Indeed, many years later, one of my first tattoos was a bird. There’s just a connection that I cannot quite explain between me and my feathered friends.
Now, I feel my grandfather’s spirit in the joy my daughter feels when a bird gets close, or eats the food she lovingly tosses outside each day. I think she feels something a little extra-special too. I also think this early love of birding can teach her many valuable life skills. Patience, awareness, observation, stillness, quiet, and the sense of peace one can only find when surrounded by nature… So many things that she doesn’t even realize she’s learning. And at the same time, watching her teaches me, and reminds me of the peace I used to know.
I find myself looking forward to our bird-watching time together. I’m already planning on bird houses, feeders, and baths in the huge yard of our new homestead. We’re lucky to be moving next to a 3-mile-long swamp that happens to be a nature preserve known for it’s uncommon birds. I can’t wait to take her there. To watch her little eyes light up, and hear her excited whispers. To hear the stories she makes up about “her” birds. To see her gain her wings of independence as she grows among the wilderness. This new life we’re going to have, it’s going to be beautiful. And my little bird, she’s going to soar. I’ll be watching.
Originally published on my blog littlebhomestead.wordpress.com