Is there room in the Para/Crypto/Fortean world for a gun-toting, paranoid, bipolar, opinionated bastard? A lonely romantic in search of his lost soul? A knight, Samurai, gunslinger, born in the wrong century? A self-destructive, doom-driven survivor seeking redemption? A heavy drinking gonzo outlaw cryptozoologist whose ego is exceeded only by his libido?
No, there isn't. That's why I'm here...

16 June 2009

The Bird Story

My aunt passed away in January of 2001. We had always been very close. I was her favorite nephew, she made no secret of it, and the rest of the family made no effort to deny it. She had a profound effect on my life. She was a librarian and passed along her love of books and language to me.
She was also an avid gardener. I despised yard and garden work. I still hate mowing grass. I once told her that I'd be completely satisfied with a yard covered in green cement and she looked at me as if I had just confessed to a penchant for cannibalism.
I remember one summer she had me prepare flower beds and plant over 300 bulbs, one at a time. I hoped I would never have to see a garden again.
The first March after her death, I suddenly caught the "gardening bug". For reasons I couldn't even understand myself, I had a desire to landscape the yard. BIG time. I built raised beds, amended the soil, read up about plants and their needs. If your not familiar with Alabama red clay soil, it's pretty much the worst stuff in the world. When it's wet and saturated it's like soup. When it's dry, it's akin to a cement sidewalk. But there I was, out there tilling, digging, mixing in sand, peat moss, fertilizers, blood meal, bone meal,lime,potash and compost.
I also went big with the plants I chose to grow. Big cannas, elephant ears (both alocasia and colocasia for you botanists), giant castor bean trees (which apparently drew the attention of the DEA choppers, I had lots of flyovers that year) and even hardy palm trees which "can't grow here".(they're the ones in the snow pic I posted here)
As with all gardens, it really "took off" the following Spring. The weather was perfect that year, and I had time to get out there every day with the water hose and Miracle Grow, and spent plenty of time on my knees pulling weeds. My garden had never looked that good and never has since.
I always wished my aunt could have seen it. She had always lived in a different city so it wasn't unusual for us to go months at a time without getting together. I even had dreams in which she hadn't died, we just hadn't seen each other in a while. I would tell her how much I wish she could come and see my garden.
It was my usual morning ritual to sit on the porch with my morning coffee and cigarette (note to self: need to look into that "caffeine-nicotine beverage" idea) and look over the garden. I'd sit there watching the dragonflys and hummingbirds, and then I'd take a stroll around and check out the plants.
One particular morning, when the flowers were in full bloom, I was sitting there as usual, when a bird came to land on the porch rail in front of me. Those of you who live in the city, where you can literally step on a pigeon may not fully comprehend how unusual this behavoiur was. Birds out here in the country just do noe do that. We just sat there looking at each for a few minutes. I got up for my stroll, fully expecting the bird to fly away. It didn't.
I descended the steps and passed by the bird. To my surprise and amusement, it hopped off the rail and began to follow me. I kept looking back as we walked along the little path between the plant beds, and the bird was walking closely behind me. Sometimes, it would hop up into the plant beds, tilt its head sideways as if it was really inspecting the leaves and flowers. I would pause and wait until it finished and hopped back onto the path.
This pattern continued as I circled around the path and got back to the porch. I climbed the steps and sat back in the chair. The bird returned to its perch on the rail and just sat there looking at me.
We sat there looking at each other for what seemed like an eternity. I even went back into the house for another cup of coffee and when I returned it was still there. Finally, I decided to get some bread for it. I went back inside and when I came back out it was gone.


Autumnforest said...

Wow, that's pretty significant. It's funny how people can impress themselves on your entire life. I always marvel that I got my love of writing and public speaking and helping others from my father who wrote and lectured and installed alcoholic recovery programs and inner city school programs around the world. I got my love of gardening, art, and history from my mother. I got my mothering instincts from my sister Tina and my love for romance novels. From my brother, Scott, I got a love of adventure and the ocean. All these people have passed on, but I realize they continue to change the world by changing me and then I change my son and on and on...It's true immortality. That bird that followed you that day, not that unusual a sign. I guess you can figure your aunt definitely has an insight into how she changed your life. You might want to plant a tree and give it a plaque with her name. Something symbolic. I tended to plant something after folks I loved passed on, usually something that was symbolic for them.

Mike-Julie said...

It sounds like your Aunt had a bigger influence on you than you even knew. I'm sure she saw what a wonderful job you did on your garden and the bird was there to let you know that she was aware of it. This is my thinking, at least. Nice story.

Gummerfan said...

Thanks for the comments. I don't know if the bird was my aunt (or her spirit) or some kind of messenger, as Jukie said, or just a case of a wacky guy in search of closure attaching significance to a random event.
Whatever the explanation, it was a positive experience and gave me a measure of peace and happiness.

Gummerfan said...

I meant Julie, of course, not "Jukie"! LOL!

Mike-Julie said...

I'm glad it did.