March 18, 2011

What we talk about when we talk about love

Nico feeding the birds, by Ian Muttoo [Nico's dad] on Flickr. This is quite possibly the best photo ever.

[Man, I should carry a copy of that photo around, just to show people why teaching can be the best job on the planet.]

Nature never became a toy to a wise spirit. The flowers, the animals, the mountains, reflected the wisdom of his best hour, as much as they had delighted the simplicity of his childhood.
~ Emerson

I took a group of middle school kids birding the week before last, and a very yellow, very cooperative Lesser Goldfinch on a low branch at the park had them so wide-eyed that you'd have thought it was Kevin from Up. The same thing happened last month when we found a young Cooper's Hawk at school, perched on a fence twenty feet away, looking awesome. The kids were spellbound. You can't pay for moments like that, I'm telling you.

Anyhow, that photo made me think of the time my little sister and I hand-fed chickadees up at the cabin, and oh, how I wish my parents and my great-aunt were still alive so I could hug them and thank them for those days, for the quail that came to be fed each afternoon, for the walks in the forest, for the binoculars and field guides that were always there... thank them for everything.

Over at Punk Rock Big Year, Paul Riss has a beaut of a post up about parents and kids and moments like the one above.
I took my kids to dance class. Now, my father never took me to dance class that I'm aware of but who knows. I barely remember the last ten minutes, never mind the last 30 years. What my dad DID do was take me to a conservation area with an old pair of binoculars to see a few birds. I really have no recollection of how it went leading up to the moment I became insanely obsessed by birds. I don't remember standing in the woods with my hand held out, waiting. I don't remember the type of seeds in the palm of my hand. I don't remember what time of year it was or what time of day it was. I don't even remember what car we drove there. What I do remember with intensity, is exactly how heavy (or rather not heavy) a Black-capped Chickadee was. How it's impossibly small silver-grey legs looked, and how the tiny claws at the ends of it's toes felt on the palm of my hand.
I wish I was able to see my face at that moment. I bet dad remembers my expression. If there's one thing you tend to remember, its when your child is ecstatic about something you did for them...
Head over to Punk Rock Big Year and read the whole thing.

See also:

[H/T for the photo: Wildlife Garden.]


  1. I'm glad that you like this photo! It's very special to me.

  2. Thanks, Ian! It really is one of the best photos ever.


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