Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Forgiving Jumping Jerry-- old friends that fly
The man had the nerve to put a big red X (it was monstrous) next to BOBOLINK.
Had I known more about rare sightings, I would have understood, but I was a young teen in his biology class who had seen bobolinks several days at the same exact spot... do you want directions?
How many times have I been birdwatching, seen a glimpse of motion, searched for a clear view, said "it's only a robin," and move on in hopes to see something rare... something beautiful? Too many.
I walk outside my house and I see the common. The folk who live on my street. Sometimes I stop. If I walked out and saw Marry Anne from Oregon, Chuck from Illinois, Aqilla from Philadelphia, Dougie from Massachusetts, or Gair from North Carolina... then I would stop whatever I was doing and make time for this rare sighting.
I ventured out to see birds today. No binoculars, no bird guide. Old friends came by to say hello and by their shape, habits, colors, sounds, and size... I could greet them by name. Even the much despised brown-headed cowbird got my attention, but in that moment a eastern kingbird flew over its head. The kingbird landed on a fence causing a bird to take flight. Yes, a robin perched a few sections down and said, "go ahead look at me, I am beautiful, even if I am a dime a dozen here in Pennsylvania."
Jumping Jerry in sharing his passion for birds and requiring all of us to make a list, placed a seed in my heart. 1983 began with me having hit rock bottom, a place where my heart had become icy and blue. Given another chance by parents, I followed my heart and it led me to birds. My heart learned how to care by loving these creatures. I am pleased from what has thus grown from that seed. You are forgiven for the red X, an imperfect man saved me.
And yes, I have seen a bobolink again. Once in 30 years, and it happened on my birthday as I walked by a field of very tall grass. A glimpse of motion caught my eye. An extraordinary blessing, as was this morning's visit from old friends.
And while forgiveness is being spoken of, I ask for yours Jerry. I can't remember where that nickname came from but I don't think is was meant to flatter. 30 years later and I can only hope that I do the same for a student even as they call me an old man as my hair turns gray.