For most 12-year-olds, summer vacation is a time of carefree play. Going to friends' houses, visits to the beach, and vacations to new and unexplored places were eagerly anticipated events that made summer even more enticing.
For me it was different. Most of my time was spent outside and I wouldn't change that for anything in the world. I roamed our 62 acres of land in all seasons, but summer held its own special beauty. Right about the time school let out, wild strawberries came in to season. I would wander through the meadow until their sweet aroma gave their secret location away—usually hidden among patches of orange hawkweed and wild mustard plants. I spent hours picking them so my Gramma would make us wild strawberry jam--an unbelievably delectable treat when spread on homemade buttermilk biscuits.
And for as many hours as I spent picking strawberries, and roaming the meadow, that many more (and then some) were spent at the little pond that I called "my special spot." It was there that I went to think, to be happy or sad, or just to watch the sun glisten off the surface of the water as it said goodnight to the world. It was magic to me.
Despite the joys I found in nature, I still often found myself lonely. I was denied the fun activities a normal girl my age got to participate in, and was even excluded from all family fun. Naturally, I yearned for companionship--someone I could talk to; someone I could love and who would love me back and value me for who I was and wanted to become.
I prayed for a friend and in the late weeks of July, God answered that prayer in a most unusual and unexpected way. He sent me a bird. A pigeon I named Millie to be exact. She looked like any other pigeon you might see while sitting on a park bench with some bread crumbs in hand, but believe me, she was no ordinary bird.
She came to me one day while I was singing and riding my bike around the yard. I noticed her right away because I always had a fascination for birds. I spent hours concocting ways to catch one, or at least convince one that I was safe and would find him lots of worms. So when Millie landed on a branch only a few feet from my bike, I was careful not to move too fast so as not to scare her away. Slowly, I got off of my bike, stood underneath her branch and continued singing to her.
It wasn't long before she moved to where she was low enough that I could almost touch her. While crooning my song, I gradually raised my hands up to where she perched and to my surprise she let me catch her. Excitement surged through my body like electricity, for cupped in my hands was the reward for all of my patience.
Little did I know at that moment that it was no fluke that Millie let me catch her. She became a fast friend, and as long as I sang to her, she followed me wherever I went. For a month, I was like the Pied Piper, and she my faithful follower. I was never so happy in my life, all because I had a little bird to love, and the best part was that she loved me back.
Summer ended quickly with a friend to spend my days with. My first day back to school was fun and exciting, but I couldn’t wait to get home to be with Millie again. I hopped off the bus, filled with the anticipation of seeing her and singing to her after a long day apart, but when I called for her she didn’t come.
I went inside and asked my mom if she had seen Millie. She told me she made a trip into town and hadn’t seen her since she got back. I went back out and began looking, calling, and singing for her to come. She never did. I found her sprawled out underneath the wheel of the car. My mother figured Millie must have been sunbathing in the driveway when she came back from town. She didn’t see her, and tragedy struck in our driveway.
My spirit was crushed when Millie died, but I managed to recover from my loss and even learn something from my little feathered friend. I learned that there is nothing better in this world than to love someone or something unconditionally, and to have that same love returned to you. I learned that death is a part of living, no matter how sad or difficult it can be. Most importantly, I learned that no matter how small the being, or how brief the encounter, if the situation is right, the impact on another’s life can be huge. Never underestimate the importance of the little things in life. These great lessons are proof that Millie was no ordinary park pigeon.
This post is my entry in What I Learned from Animals at Middle Zone Musings and High Callings Blogs.