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Monday, August 12, 2013

The Cry of a Mockingbird

When we first moved into our home, the front porch was overgrown with giant cedars that barely left room to walk up the steps. Inside one of the cedar trees, a mockingbird had made her nest. We learned to duck as she guarded her nest with fierce determination as we entered the home with arms full of boxes. On the 2nd or 3rd night in the house, the doorbell rang at 3 in the morning. I sat straight up in bed like I had been hit by a bolt of lightening because the doorbell wasn't as much a doorbell as it was a buzz. It sounded like someone was being electrocuted, which in hindsight was a fairly good description since it caught on fire a couple of years later. I ran down the stairs and groped my way through the unfamiliar living room, dodging boxes and furniture. I peeked through the octagon window in the old wooden door and saw a young shirtless black guy standing on the porch looking over his shoulder. I cracked the door open a enough for him to tell me he had just been walking down the street when he noticed the dome light was on in our car and he thought I should come take a look at it. I asked him to wait as I ran upstairs to rouse my sleeping husband. At 3 in the morning, He needed to be shakened a little to get him to wake up so I said the most shocking thing I could think of to get him up and rolling.... I said.... "There's an Ethiopian looking guy who needs to talk to you like right now!"
My urgency wasn't contagious as he slowly got up and ambled downstairs. When he got to the door, the Ethiopian guy was very insistent he come out and see the car light. My husband finally persuaded him to leave and as he was walking down the steps, the momma mockingbird dive boomed the back of his head practically knocking him to the ground. He jumped up like he had been hit with a bat and ran as fast as his Ethiopian legs would take him. It was so funny! We waited until the nest was empty before we cut the tree down and hauled it away. Even with the nest empty and the tree gone, the momma mockingbird kept coming back, squawking and flying in circles where tree once stood. It was like she didn't know what to do with herself and it was heartbreaking. We moved my last little chick to the City this weekend and as we pulled into our driveway I thought of the momma mockingbird and her frantic cries.  The language she spoke makes perfect since to me 18 years after the fact.  All she had ever known was guarding her nest with fierce tenacity. Then one day she returned home to find no nest, no tree.  There were no little mouths to feed... No quarrels to settle, no tears to wipe.... Except her own. The branches of other trees in the neighborhood didn't feel the same.... They seemed... Well, they seemed a little shaky and not as comfortable as the one that held her nest. "Where do I go to from here? What do I do now?" She squawked, but sadly the night was silent and in that moment.... like it might never end....

P.S. If you look for me in the near future, I'll be the one lying in the corner in a fetal position.

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