“Turkey vultures!” I cried out, hearing the door slam behind
Samuel. I'm not sure he heard me.
I am not sure when my love of birds, specific birds, started.
I know it was less than seven years ago when I was still content to only hear the birds, not knowing whose song was whose and I would proclaim, “These birds don’t show themselves to me. I don’t need to know their names.”
Maybe it was when Samuel was home in first grade, after a tumultuous kindergarten and a school district that failed him in the beginning of first grade. We would spend hours at Hart Park hiking, looking, talking and growing. We bumped into a birder there one day. He was pleased to see us in a lovely, hidden grove by the bridge, a place Samuel called “God’s Garden” because it truly was divine, not because anyone else had proclaimed it so.
For whatever reason, Birds are the first lesson we are sharing. I have yet to pull out my vintage Peterson’s Field Guide to Western Birds and show it to Ciaran. Instead, I am allowing him to be wooed by the birds themselves. When we go for walks and I hear a bird I say something like, “I wonder what sort of bird sings that song?”
His head will lift and his eyes look to the sky, watching intently for the bird who matches the song. He looks for the bird, but like I used to be, is content for just the sounds. I smile, glad to have heard and shared the hearing.
I used to call the Muscovy Ducks “Turkey Ducks” because they look like, you guessed it, turkeys. They will also follow humans around on the grass, not only sticking to the water.
I know my father must have taught me something about birds when I was a little girl, but I don’t remember any of it.
I do know my children will remember it.
I loved how Emma explained the mallards to Ciaran and included, “Mallards are the ones that actually quack,” before ruining my fantasy about mallards mating for life later when our little friend wasn’t with us and was safely out of earshot.
I have been thinking since that afternoon why I feel empowered by knowing which duck and which bird is which. Perhaps it is because I know the strength of specific via general word choices. Maybe it is because I simply like knowing which bird that looks like this sounds like that. Truly, it may be that I love recognizing the call and the face of traveling birds who move in and around this area at this time of year.
Whatever my inner, unknown motivation may be, I know our moments with the birds and the ducks and including their care, witness and presence in our lives manages to simply grow the sweetness of our life experience. That's worthy enough.
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Julie Jordan Scott is a writer, performance poet, Mommy and mixed-media artist. Her word-love themed art will be for sale at First Friday each month in Downtown Bakersfield. Check out the links below to follow her on a bunch of different social media channels, especially if you find the idea of a Word-Love Party bus particularly enticing.
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