Magic happens

My blogging friend Ombusben posted a wonderful entry about “Mocking the Mockingbirds.” I took me back in space and time to at least two different occasions.

If there is something I really miss in western Oregon, it’s mockingbirds. I guess we just don’t have quite enough heat for them to enjoy living here. Or maybe they’re just too lazy to commute for such a short warm time.

Several decades ago, I lived in northern Marin County in California. I loved the house, including the 40′ swimming pool in the back yard. The story I want to tell you began there.

At the time, I was 8+ months pregnant (a situation that continued for about 6 weeks–my daughter is still chronically late) and very uncomfortable most of the time. I awoke very early in the morning unable to sleep, and I would slip outside and lie in a deck chair by the pool.

In a corner of the yard was a huge Monterey pine, the tallest tree in the neighborhood. Those of you who know mockingbirds will understand that this characteristic makes it a mockingbird magnet.

Each morning a mockingbird (the same one, I’m sure) would come and sit on the very tallest branch and sing to me for hours. He had a huge repertory of bird calls. It’s hard to remember being happier, even as uncomfortable as I was.

When my daughter was 13, I had been living in Oregon for nearly a decade (again–I was born and grew up here). We bought a wonderful old house that had  been horribly abused. But it was a terrific house on a huge lot about 5 minutes from downtown, and we loved it.

I was out slogging in one of the flower beds one morning not too long after we moved in. The yard, if possible, had been even more abused than the house, but we were determined to get it back.

My back and shoulders and knees were all hurting from crawling around weeding. I looked up at a huge spruce tree in the back yard (the tallest in the neighborhood) and thought, “If I just had a mockingbird, I would be totally happy right now.”

Three days later, I was still weeding in the same area. I began to hear beautiful bird song, at least a half dozen different species. I started looking for the birds, and here’s what I found: In the top of the spruce tree was a mockingbird.

He sang for me as I worked for several days. Then he was gone. He never came back.

I’ve often wondered how far he had to come that it took three days to get there. I also wondered how he could have heard my call/wish from wherever he was.

But I will never forget him.

8 Responses to “Magic happens”

  1. jackiesgarden Says:

    Oh, I like that story! And that you won’t forget it. Sweet. I don’t think we have mockingbirds here – I’ve never seen one and we feed the birds and watch them often.

  2. mklekacz Says:

    Glad you enjoyed it. It’s true, and it still resonates in me with more than a little amazement.

  3. ombudsben Says:

    Good stories both! Too bad that fellow never got a female to his advertised turf, or you might have had mockers there for a while.

    I know I’ve seen a map of their distribution across the US, and it seems to me it included Oregon, but maybe they are just less common there for some reason.

  4. mklekacz Says:

    Yeah, Ben, I think our coastal weather (and I’m including Portland in this) is just a little too cool for them. I love the mockingbirds, and I miss them. I think I’m a bit of a mockingbird myself, actually.

  5. Ombudsben Says:

    Marianne, first thanks much for the hummer nectar recipe, I passed it on, and your blog address, too.
    This morning, as I parked for the morning walk out along the shore with the pups, a couple mockingbirds were flitting about the fenceline nearby, and stopped on a couple posts to watch us, until I let the dogs out the back. Because of your post, it made me think of you.
    It also occurred to me that I’ve never seen so many mockingbirds as I’m seeing this summer out on the old naval air station — it’s shaping up as the summer of the mockingbirds for us. I whistled for a couple of them, call and response, and Ernie still gives me the knowing smile.

  6. mklekacz Says:

    Well, send a few of them up my way, would you?

  7. Inger Says:

    Um, Mom, I am *not* still chronically late, thank you very much.

    (Yes, I do read your blog.)

  8. Marianne Says:

    Hugs, kiddo. I’m glad you read here.

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