When he was small, my youngest son had a habit of filling his pockets with treasures he encountered in his daily adventures. I didn't always understand the value he saw in his chosen objects -- really, how many rocks and sticks could one boy keep? In his eyes, though, each one was beautiful and important. Life is just like that on a larger scale, isn't it? We gather up the precious bits of our experiences and save them all to learn from and enjoy later. Perhaps you'll find a little something here that you'd like to keep in your own pockets. Thanks for visiting.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Free as a Bird

I always love how easy it is to shift into summer gear once school and activities end for the boys.  All of the carefully orchestrated schedules we've known for the past ten months just end suddenly:  we have no more early mornings, no more lunches to pack in the evenings, no more homework or meetings or dropping people off here and picking them up there.  There is a noticeable change in everyone's mood at home; we do everything at a more leisurely pace, have more time to enjoy together, and laughter comes often and easily. This is definitely one of my very favourite times of the year.

Our first weekend of summer has been hot, sunny, and perfectly fun.  We've adopted full-time outdoor living, spending time in the pool and playing games in the backyard from morning until evening.  I went ahead and purchased a slackline kit after my sister-in-law Meg told me how much she and her family love the activity, and it has generated a huge amount of enthusiasm here so far!  We found a perfect spot to suspend the line between two shady trees in our yard, and Noah and Will have already spent many happy hours over the past two days balancing skillfully back and forth across it -- they think it's awesome. Matt and I have also tried it, and we agree; it's such a fun activity for everyone!

We've also made a tiny new friend since summer holidays began.  On Friday evening, Will was swinging quietly in the hammock chair, reading his new jumbo book of Archie comics, when he suddenly whisper-shouted to me that there was a little bird really close to his feet. I looked, and sure enough, a little grayish-brown bird was hopping right under his dangling toes, eating bugs.  Will carefully got up from the hammock to investigate the bird a little more closely, and surprisingly, the bird was not at all alarmed by Will's movements.  For almost half an hour afterwards, Will gently followed the little bird all around the yard, often coming close enough that he could have touched her, and the bird was not bothered by this at all -- she actually seemed to enjoy Will's company.  At first I was a little worried that the bird was young or injured and maybe physically unable to fly away, but she seemed perfectly healthy as she continued hopping around.  At one point she did fly over to the fence, and then she came back right close to Will again, as if she were specifically looking for her new buddy.  Will and I both marvelled at the strange but sweet friendliness of this wild little creature.

We have seen the bird in our yard every morning, afternoon, and evening since Will first discovered her on Friday.  She comes close to all of us, and when we walk off to somewhere else in the yard, we often find her following us so she can stay nearby.  When we crouch down low to the ground to talk to her (yes, we've started talking to her!), she hops right over to our faces and looks up at us with curiosity. This afternoon I was holding our bird book down low to the ground so that the boys and I could try to identify exactly what kind of bird she is, and the three of us cracked up when she hopped right over to the book as if to read it, and then flew at my hand and pecked at the diamond in my ring!  Our whole family is now completely fascinated by her.

We're pretty sure she's a young brown-headed cowbird, and the boys have discovered some really interesting details about her species online (including the fact that this little bird's mother, like all female cowbirds, did not build her own nest or raise her own young -- she laid her egg in the nest of another bird species and left that bird mother to feed and look out for her baby.)  It's amazing the lessons that can come at a time when you're least expecting to learn something....

We hope our new little "pet" will stay with us over these next glorious months of summer holidays, as we all savour the feeling of being as free as the birds.

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