August 11, 2010

Cousin Jackie and the Bird that Was Going to Peck My Eyes Out

As I mentioned in my square-dance posts introducing my cousin John and his wife Paulette, along with my cousin Carolyn and her husband Steve, John was once 9 years old and referred to as Jackie.  The family came to visit us on the island, and we children went walking through the woods beside our house.  (I was 5.)  I pulled down a branch to see a nest, and Jackie said, "Don't do that, or the mama bird will come find you and peck your eyes out."

Fast forward to a week ago, when a baby bird fluttered into my living room.

The baby bird

He's down in that hard-to-get-into corner.

The nest on our patio from which BB fluttered.  This is either the second or third set of nestings there this summer.

The mama bird calling to her baby (who is peeping to beat the band) and plotting her strategy for pecking my eyes out.

Mama bird moving closer, on the patio now and preparing to put on her combat boots and kick in the sliding glass doors in.

That's all of the photos, because I called Michael to report the situation and went to the library, where birds are in books where they belong.  The pecking-your-eyes-out thing?  No, I don't believe it. And it may not have been Cousin Jackie who told me; maybe some other family friends were on the island for a visit.  But the fact remains that I, who am perfectly capable of removing squirrels, birds, and other varmints from my living quarters, decided today just wasn't the day. 

When I returned, the bird had found a new hiding place. We spotted her racing away a few times, and at last Michael, with a sock on his hand to keep his scent off the fledgling, nestled it onto a piece of cardboard and placed it beside a bush outside, where the mother bird soon joined it.

I regret adding a moral to this delicious story, and yet there it is, in front of my eyes.  Mother's cousins had been here for a week, and we'd been unable to coordinate schedules. John consoled me with the information that they'd be in Detroit soon for Carolyn's granddaughter's graduation and grandson's installation (coronation?) as an Eagle Scout. They were to stop in Louisville on the way home. 

A good plan, but on hanging up the phone I thought, "This is stupid.  We are all here together now.  We need to take this moment."  So out I drove to the fairgrounds and paid the $6 parking fee about which John had warned me, and the $5 visitor's fee, which he'd also warned me of.  That's when I took the  happy photos of family and of a rainbow of petticoats.

As it happens, the Thursday John and Paulette got to Detroit was the day that Steve's son, whose memorial I posted two days ago, was in the terrible accident. 2nd Lt. Mark Jason Pincek died on Sunday.

And the moral of the story is that all we have is this moment, so if cousins you haven't seen since you were five come to town, don't wait for another, better time to visit. In the few hours together, I found myself a set of cousins close at hand.  The rhythms of their speech comfort me, because they are the same rhythms with which my mother speaks, passed on to us all by our grandmothers. We didn't know each other at all, and in those few hours we became family.  

It was worth the $11.00.  And the plan is for Michael and me to take square dance lessons and meet up with the four of them at next years National Square Dance Convention in Detroit, Michigan, where Mother grew up.  Just when you think life is contracting due to losses, it suddenly throws itself wide open.  Love is abloom, all unexpectedly.

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