Tuesday, May 22, 2012

On Second Thought

As often happens, after I post the blog, I think "why didn't I share this or say that." So I am going to add something to 'highlight' the last post  - Warbler Wonderland.  While working at Daicey Pond Campground, Baxter State Park, a camper got me excited about finding the members of this sweet little family of birds - the wood warblers.  But, my love for birds started many years before that time at Daicey.  I really believe it was rooted in the discovery of a dead robin when I was only six years old.  I am going to include a story I wrote about this important childhood moment:

My First Funeral & I Performed It!

It was a warm summer day, a short time after the violent murder of my friend Margery.  I was six years old.  I walked out my front door, heading nowhere in particular – just out to play.  As I stepped off our cement porch onto the lawn, my eyes focused on a small mound of feathers lying on the ground about fifteen feet beyond the front steps.  I was puzzled.  It appeared to be a bird, but I had never seen one asleep on the grass.

Walking slowly, I arrived at the small feathery pile, and leaned over cautiously.  Lifting up what I now realized was a very still robin, I tried to rub it, and talk it back to life. Everything in me wanted that bird to shake itself off and fly free.  I wished I could have been like Jesus in that story I heard in Sunday school, where he spoke to an entombed Lazarus, and brought him back to life.  Holding the limp dead creature , I was overwhelmed with sadness.  I knew I had to do something.  I got an idea!

First, I went inside the basement and found an empty green shoebox and an old yellow towel.  Then, from the garage, I took a shovel and dug a hole in the small, sloping yard beside my house.  It seemed too important a moment to say goodbye to the robin all by myself, so I decided to find a group of mourners.  I carried lawn chairs and boxes, and even pulled out the old wagon, in order to create several rows of seats near the makeshift grave.  I placed the shoebox holding the stiff bird, beside the hole, and set out to find my friends.

I invited them to the funeral, but insisted that they needed to pay a penny to come. I  was taught to put money in an offering plate when I went to church, so the required penny-for-admission seemed essential for our religious observation.  Within a short time six or seven kids arrived at my house, handed me their coins, and sat solemnly in the pews.  We reverently laid the little creature to rest, with me as the presiding minister.  I said a very special prayer over the cardboard casket before it was put in the ground.  There wasn’t much to the ritual, but there were many tears.  We all cried and took turns putting handfuls of dirt back into the grave.  We laid a bouquet of bright yellow dandelions over the dark fresh earth.

After observing and commemorating the death of this precious creature, my friends and I went to buy some candy with the funeral money, and to play a game of baseball.


The robin was my first physical experience of death.  Dad had run over my dog, Jaggers, with a truck, but I had never seen the body.  And my friend Margery had “gone away.”  Now I had my first chance to observe and to feel death.  As I held the body of the robin in my hand, I recognized that although the ‘’stuff’ that made it a living bird was gone, I was holding something that still looked like the robin.  Questions filled my mind?  What was lost?  Where did it go?  Why did it hurt so much to see this creature that once could fly now so still in my hand?  I grieved for this creature. 

The homemade funeral gave me a way to say goodbye to something that I loved – one of the precious birds that fascinated me.  But I believe the little bird was also providing the chance for my friends and me to act out our own goodbye to our friend who had been so suddenly taken away a few weeks earlier.  I had heard the screams of grief from her parents, and my mother had told me about funerals, but as a child, I had been permitted only to stand on the sidelines and watch the awful time pass by.

Now, I finally had the chance to grieve for all the things I had lost in my young life – the robin, my dog Jaggers, and particularly, my beloved friend Margery – and after that, in a child’s simple way, to reassert life, playing baseball with our friends, a game she had loved, too.


                           "Caged birds sing, wild birds fly...stay wild."

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Warbler Wonderland

After arriving home on May 1, we had two fun back-to-back weekends!  Simon, Torrey and Phillip came for dinner May 4.  Simon and Phillip stayed over for both nights and we appreciated having quality time together catching up, and seeing how our two grandchildren had grown since last fall. Budget, the little bull dog, came, too.

The following weekend included Mother's Day Sunday and Carrie, Jay and the girls came for a visit.  Carrie's high school friends were being celebrated at a surprise birthday party so it worked out for  a great time for the family to come to "Grammy and Meme's house".  It didn't take long for the girls to unpack and start playing.  Lyla wanted to try out the pond (brrrr!) but we just smiled and let her go.  We got the camera to record the first dip!

Well, Meme always enjoyed the honor of being the first to swim in the pond, so ...
not to be outdone, she got her suit on and in she went.  

Brave, courageous women!

Since the visits, we had a week of dental appointments,  eye check-ups and other errands.  But we also got some great news - the weather would finally warm up and we could count on the sun shining for four or five days in a row.  After the cold, wet two weeks we experienced since arriving home, this was really exciting.  Today, in the midst of this great weather, I went to the shed early to put recycles away, and was thrilled with a symphony of bird songs.  Grabbing my binoculars, I went for a 'bird walk' in Warbler Wonderland.  I want to share pictures I pulled off the internet to show you some of the happy little birds I saw this morning.

Blackburnian Warbler

Yellow-rump Warbler

Black-throated Green Warbler

The pictures I'm including are all taken of the males who have the brightest plumage during the spring. This can really help with visual identification. The wood warblers are some of the smallest birds in North America and fill the forest with their songs after arriving on their breeding grounds.  We are fortunate that the insects we battle are the 'groceries' loved by these amazing birds.  While on my walk, I also saw fifteen other bird species enjoying the feast of this environment.  All in all, it is good to be back in Maine!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Made It Back to Maine!

The final week of our trip was spent with Carrie, Jay and the girls in New Hampshire,  They made our
visit wonderful with a special birthday celebration for me, and posters made by Sari and Lyla welcoming us to their home.  We got a nice picture of Sari but the shot of Lyla was too fuzzy to share. We did get a picture of "Little Kitty", the newest member of the family.

On May 1, we arrived home, grateful for all the happy moments and safe miles.  Now it is time to rake the yard, clean up the millions of pine cones, and get rid of all the traces of winter.

The first meal in our home had to be a Maine lobster.  We planned this special treat for weeks!
                     It tasted so good and surely was a great reward for being home...

                           And the first morning, the loon arrived to give us the official welcome!

        So here we are, back at home and looking forward to spending time with our children and grandchildren in Maine.  It will also be good to see our friends and breath in Maine again!  We'll
keep up the blog as we camp, hike and visit special spots in Maine.                                                 Thanks for sharing our winter trip and seeing us safely back to home base.                                                                                             More to share as the summer comes, with love and hugs.  L&L