She crouched down on the sidewalk and reached to touch the white substance that was unknown to her.
“No, no, Rosebud. That’s bird poop,” her dad said.
“Why do the birdies poop on the sidewalk?” two year old Rosebud asked.
“I guess they don’t know any better.”
“They know better how to fly in the sky, but they don’t know better not to poop on the sidewalk?”
Boy Wonder rescued a baby robin from a flooded fire pit when he was four. We made a big deal. He was a hero.
Cheerio could recognize more different kinds of birds than she had fingers by the time she was in preschool. She’d stand by our kitchen window, on the side of the house with the feeder, and flap her wings with excitement as the birds came in to feed.
Even now, my kids will sit beside the river and watch bald eagles with an excited stillness.
They do this with them.
They are the reason my children have an appreciation of birds. My parents are bird watchers. They feed them from their small back porch. They travel to local forest preserves with their birding group. They have always, as long as I can remember, enjoyed feeding and watching birds.
It’s such a simple thing, really. And that’s the beauty of it.
To get outside. To get quiet. To keep your eyes and ears peeled.
To watch a bird. Just for the pleasure of it.
Last week, on a sunny morning with fresh snow on the trees, I went with my mom and my dad (and my DSLR) out to a nearby preserve and walked the short trail.
Stopping to look.
Stopping to listen.
Stopping to enjoy the beauty and stillness.
They taught me that.
And I’m learning still.