Most every day I’m out early for a run and I pass the Housatonic River or Long Island Sound. Each day brings a different view as the waters are tidal. High tide is an infinite view of water meeting sky, while low tide is waterbirds combing the muddy banks for edible treasures.
One of my first childhood memories is being with my dad, my Aunt Beth, my grandparents and some assemblage of seven siblings that made a trip to Chincoteague, VA. It was low tide, and as a child it was incomprehensible that one could dash through the mud and muck with no fear. My relatives were avid birdwatchers and they were stalking for unusual egrets and herons or sandpipers. I was mindful of the avian sanctuary, but amazed that I could be a part of their element.
So low tide always brings me back to childhood. The waterbirds manifest memories of trips with my dad, both around home territory of the Chesapeake Bay and to far nations south of the U.S. border. Memories of birds and birdwatching, and how they formed an integral part of my early years.
Today my home is filled with bird paintings and figurines, with more than one room designated “the bird room”. Watercolors by John W. Taylor, given to me by my dad when he closed his medical office and wanted his cherished collection to go to a proper home, adorn every corner. Gulls and swallows and hummingbirds flutter across the walls, bringing a sense of infinity and peaceful escape.
My youngest sister could name each and every bird gracing my walls and shelves as she is my dad’s most prodigious birder protégé. I did not continue my ornithological studies, and don’t know my art by genus and species. Important to me now is their reminder of good fortune to be raised and loved in a happy and secure home.
Then there are the nocturnal birds. Birds that bond my sisters and me and keep us together even though we are apart. But this is a later post.
*Special thanks to Eddie, wherever he may be, for finding my keys for me when I lost them stalking for waterbirds!