Thursday, February 12, 2015


When we moved into our current house, Jill was quick to get in touch w/ the nature surrounding it.

She wanted to build, groom, and harvest a garden.  She did.

Then she built another one.  And did it again.

She seemed to have a great appreciation for our property's 'natural' landscape - the bushes that framed the back deck, the various trees that created a natural fence line separating our yard from our backyard neighbors, the towering front yard oak (named "Grandpa" by Rory when we moved in - and so it remains) that now holds the ever popular tree trampoline swing.  (It's safer than it sounds.)

Jill didn't mind getting dirty.  She was at home w/ the soil.  The earth.  In a very real way, it was a therapeutic outlet for her.

The large window in our kitchen yields an excellent view of our backyard and the natural activities occurring in it.

Like birds...being birds.

Unless they're tropical, fighting, or building a nest where I don't want one, I'm likely not paying much attention to birds.

Jill, on the other hand, soon after we moved in, paid closer attention to our little bird community.

"Look guys," she'd excitedly point out the kitchen window as Ro and I shoveled breakfast into our face holes.  "That bird over there...he was here yesterday and I think he's not pleased that this new bird has started to infringe on his territory."

I didn't care.

But, for a five year old (our five year old), any activity was engaging activity.

And so it was.  On almost a daily basis, spotting bird activity outside the house became a regular discussion point inside the house.  These two girls would actively watch to discover the next plot line in the ongoing bird saga.

"Ro Ro Ro, you see that bird in the bushes just beyond the feeder?"

"No...where?" Rory straining to see.

"Riiiiiiiight there," Jill'd precisely point out.  "That bird was making a nest outside the dining room window yesterday.  I bet he's looking for more materials today."

Who gives a shit?

(Yes, I'm aware.  I'm aware that I've used this line in previous posts.  Maybe the feelings behind this phrase are something I need to explore.  Maybe I need to give more credit to the "little things" in life.  Maybe that's where the magic lives.  For Jill and Rory it certainly does.  And they're innately happy.  Hmm...I may be onto something...)

Regardless, the girls' borderline infatuation w/ the (what I would label as) mundane bird activity did tend to warm my heart just a bit.  Admittedly, I still didn't care about the birds.  But, my girls found joy in it.  I'm not stepping in the way of their joy.

Separately but similarly, Jilly would often be the first person to spot and comment on a flock of birds making one of those indescribable patterns in the sky.  We'd be out for a walk, playing at the park, or driving in the car, and Jill'd exclaim, "Oh look!  Look at those birds.  There's just something so magical about the shapes and patterns that they make in the sky."  Jill's expression was always something close to childlike wonder.  I found myself watching her expression more than the birds.  

Because of this, when Rory and I see such a flock, we immediately point it out to one another.

We saw one a couple weeks ago as we walked toward the entrance of Trader Joe's.  Rory looked up and w/o missing a beat said, "Hi Mommy."

...deep breath for Daddy...

So, b/c this is very much a stream of consciousness posting process, I'm going to go a bit 'Pulp Fiction' here and take things a bit out of sequence.

Before we moved onto Sundown Square, we lived w/ my parents.  The initial plan was to stay a month or two to find our spot in STL.  After our initial diagnosis, we opted to stay put, extending our stay for fourteen months.  (And what a freaking blessing that was.)

As we began chemotherapy treatments, an odd recurrence emerged.  Nearly every morning when I left the house for work, I'd step out to my car and see a black bird (crow?  raven?)  perched atop my passenger side mirror.  As soon as I got w/in a few feet of it, the bird would fly off.

The first few times it occurred, I brushed it off.

But it kept coming back.  Day after day after day the bird returned.

And I have to be honest.  I didn't feel good about it.  I mean, it was a black bird.  That's not a positive sign, right?  If it's a good omen, wouldn't it have been a dove or something?  (Clearly I'm not current on my bird symbolism.)

Jilly found it interesting as well, but we didn't talk too much about it...maybe b/c we both had some hidden concerns about what it potentially symbolized.

After Jill's treatments, the bird was gone.

So there's that.

Fast forward to the last week or so.  I'm now working from home.  Thank goodness (and the good people in my work world for this accommodation).

It's winter.  The trees, the bushes, are all bare.

So, when a bright red cardinal sits atop a branch, perfectly framed outside my kitchen window, I immediately take notice.  Amidst a backdrop of grey skies and dried out branches, this vibrant shock of red jumps out.

Fine.  A cardinal was in my yard in the thick of winter.  It's happened before.  Not a big deal.

But this guy keeps coming back.  Morning after morning.

Maybe this is just what birds do...

But but but, when I'm in my office, jamming away at work, and a (that?) freaking cardinal finds me (again?) by planting itself just outside my office window (for nearly two minutes), that causes me to pause...then blog.

The truth is this all may mean nothing.  I may be connecting dots that aren't meant to be connected.

But, even so, if this bird provides me w/ a kernel of comfort, of solace, then I'll bite.  I am biting.  Because maybe it's all about connecting our own dots in our own way.

You connect yours.

I'll connect mine.

Here's to birds.

All love,

J, J, & r

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