Wish I'd Said It

Weeds are flowers too - once you get to know them.

- A. A. Milne

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Old Friends, Wise Words & Mourning A Dove

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.



Hilary said...

Today is exactly one month since I found that dead mourning dove and did pretty much the same thing with it. I wonder.. did you keep a feather?

Nice to know you P, M and B got together as you have many times over the years.

I've certainly heard you utter your fathers words many a time. Cool that you overheard that interaction between F and J. I guess your kids really do listen when you speak. Go figure.. you never know.

Leah J. Utas said...

Heartfelt post, Frank. Your father was a wise man.

Linda at To Behold The Beauty said...

I've used your father's phrase many times myself, but now I'll probably think of this post every time the words come out of my mouth.

My dad often blamed the family dog for stinky situations when I was growing up. Often, though, the dog deserved it.

Lisa said...

Nice to hear a story about dad, I sure miss him a lot.

We also found a dead mourning dove under our car about 10 days ago and laid it to rest. Our love and compassion for birds and all fauna came from our dad; I'm so glad we all share it.

Pete is too handsome to fart, it had to have been Ben.

ellen abbott said...

there was probably nothing you could have done for the dove. perhaps is was just at the end of it's life.

Reb said...

Those are the best kind of friends to make...the ones that fart solemnly that is. ;)

Cay Sehnert said...

I am (or was) pretty dang handsome, and my farts are an abomination. As usual, reality is often scarier than our fondest romantic notions. Tune in next week to see if Lisa gets the loan she wanted from Pete.

Frank Baron said...

Hil, I tugged once at a wing feather and it didn't come loose. I didn't try again. This latest cold snap has been tough on the birds.

Yes he was, Leah.

Linda, Ben is indeed guilty once in a while. And oblivious to the carnage, like all pooches. ;)

I miss him too, Lisa. Strange that you, Hil, and I would all encounter dead doves this winter. Pete will be happy to hear you cleared him. :)

That may well be, Ellen.

LOL, Reb. :)

Lisa, Cay is challenging your theory. Don't insist on proof. He's the kind of guy who'll bag and mail a fart to prove his point. ;)

Thanks all, for taking the time to visit, read, and leave your marks. :)

Shrinky said...

Ah what a tenderly written piece regards those words of your father's, and how touching to see them pass on down through the generations .

So sad about the dove, nature is often cruel, isn't it?

As for your friends - guess they symbolise the true value of good friendship (grin)!

Pauline said...

It coulda been Ben - you never know...

Dianne said...

I love the notion of "you never know" - it encourages the imagination and lets the mind roam free
your Dad was certainly a special person and his son is too

sorry about the dove
I found a small dead bird as I moved a pile of snow that was about to crumble
I just stood there and cried for a bit, nature is so beautiful yet often pulls at the heart as it remind us of how fragile we are

138 years!!
so these guys knew you as a baby? :)

Anonymous said...

Oh, how I laughed out loud at you and your friends! Thanks for that.

Frank Baron said...

Hiya Shrinky. Nature certainly can appear cruel to our sensibilities. And those old dudes certainly represent something. I'm thinking it's the triumph of luck over sense. ;)

Pauline, it often is. ;)

You nailed it, Dianne. "You never know" leaves the door open for possibilities, often limitless. It encourages adventure and discovery. And I've known one of those old guys since we were about seven and the other two since we were 16. So, not quite babies. Bless you for the kind words. :)

Glad I could help put a smile on your face, ladyfi. Thanks for the visit. :)

Grayquill said...

I loved the nostalgic feeling accompanying this post. I thought of my own father and some of his words. Then the old friends gave me a smile – for old friends are profound in the composite of the whole, when all the moments are considered the common shared experiences, the shared sorrows, the shared dreams, the advice received and given, and the camaraderie – the sum of the whole adds to the value. Great post! I enjoyed it more than these few words express. Good one!

Frank Baron said...

Thanks GQ. You're very kind. :)

Skunkfeathers said...

What's a fart amongst friends? Especially a well-thought-out one.

You never know...until you try. Wise words.

Frank Baron said...

I think so, Skunky. And suitable for many an occasion.

June said...

I read this post soon after you put it up, and wanted to think about it before I commented. Coming back, I find there isn't any thinking necessary. These are nice stories, warm thoughts. I think that poor dead bird got the best send-off possible for a wild bird, with your good thoughts and intentions surrounding him or her. I think your kids are lucky kids, as you were a lucky kid. I think you and your friends are fortunate to have each other.
All in all, these stories speak of comfort in oneself and in life, and of your very, very good heart.

Frank Baron said...

June, those are the nicest words I've read in a long while. Here it is only February, and my year is made! Thank you. :)

Unknown said...

Two mourning doves moved into my study just yesterday. I'm taking care of them for a little while for their real guardian. Both were rescued and like their new lifestyle. Edward was released but came home crying and wouldn't even come out of his cage for weeks. They are the gentlest birds with such a kind and inquisitive gaze. I especially love Edward's coo, it feels like being wrapped up in a warm baby blanket.

So, for all the mourning dove casualties out there, we're gladly carrying the karmic torch down here in rural Kentucky.


Frank Baron said...

Atta girl, Pam! That's really nice to hear. Looks like Edward might become family, eh? Please keep me posted on how things shake out. :)