Not necessarily in that order.
A few days ago, Son #1 and I returned from erranding to find a mourning dove behaving oddly. It was sitting upon the snow at the top of my driveway and didn't move although I'd stopped the car within five feet of it. I got out of the car and approached it slowly, murmuring, wondering aloud why he wasn't moving away. When I was within a couple of feet and extended my hand, still not really knowing what I'd do if it allowed me to make contact, it flew away.
My relief was somewhat short-lived as it flew a few feet away, to the cedar hedge. But instead of alighting on a branch, it landed on the ground. I wondered if there might be something wrong with one of its feet and perhaps it couldn't manage clinging to a branch.
I didn't want to alarm it by chasing it all over the yard when it might just be feeling a little under the weather. There was nothing further to be done but wish it well.
Yesterday, when we moved the car, we found a dead mourning dove beneath it, head down, frozen to the ground. My gut feeling was it was the same bird we saw a few days before. I felt bad as I carried him across the road and placed his body on the snowy field.
My father was a pretty smart guy. He was well educated and thoughtful. Along with helping to instill a love of fishing, I owe him for teaching me the magic of these three words: You never know.
I recall first hearing them in response to my peppered questions as we prepared to go fishing:
"How big do you think the biggest trout in the whole stream is?"
A thoughtful pursing of the lips and a moment's pondering and then the words: "You never know." Which, in this instance, meant "as big as you can possibly imagine."
"I can't get a single bite on these worms. Do you think they'll hit a grasshopper?"
"You never know." Which, in this instance had an addendum: "unless you try."
That was the most common interpretation of the phrase. You'll never know an awful lot of things unless you try them.
Not long ago, I heard Son #2 reply to a question posed by Son #1 with a shrug and a "you never know."
I wonder if it gave Dad as much pleasure when he heard me say it.
Last week I invited three old friends to come over and watch the Super Bowl. Surprisingly, the logistics worked out and all three arrived. It occurred to me at some point that I'd known these guys for a long time and decided to figure out just how long.
Disdaining the use of the calculator built into my keyboard because I don't know how to use it, I grabbed a pen and piece of paper.
A couple of minutes of brow-furrowing and finger-counting later, I determined that I'd been friends with the three for a total of 138 years. Which, when you think about it, means a lot of things but mostly that those guys are getting pretty darn old.
Announcing the result of my computations led to the clink of four beer bottles and a general murmur of appreciation. And then Pete farted - rather solemnly I thought. He belatedly tried to blame it on Ben who, when accused, showed his good breeding by looking guilty.
I don't have a lot of friends. But once I make one, they tend to stay made.