Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Noah's Ark . . . Lessons Learned

Recently, Mother Nature  has created freakish acts that she casts upon Earth.  
...from tsunamis to untold  numbers of earthquakes, hurricanes  and tornadoes.
 Sunday, August 21, Goderich, on Lake Huron
was the focus of a wind-gusted tornado
which rose viciously from the lake and devastated
"The Prettiest Town in Canada" ~ as named by Queen Victoria.

                     Perhaps the worst flood on Earth ...was inflicted by God
(through Mother Nature) in Biblical times... which prompted me
          to post this blog about Lessons we Humans can Learn from Disasters.

Picture  an artist's water colour concept of Noah's Ark in the locale of Mount Ararat: It is a grassy  mountain top with a tall tree either side with a bird or two visible. Further down the slope is a scrawny tree with strewn boulders. A whitish halo, edged with a rainbow, surrounds the Ark  from prow to stern.
The Ark is 5 storeys high...the animals two by two leisurely tread from  their decks down the slope, wearing a path through the deep green grass. The sky is bluish-lavender, the clouds white; and for all on board:
                                                This is a New Day!

Everything I need to know, I learned from Noah's Ark!

 ONE: Don't miss the boat.
TWO: Remember that we are all in the same boat.
THREE: Plan ahead.  It wasn't raining when Noah built the Ark.
FOUR: Stay fit.  When  you're 60 years old, someone may ask you
to do something really big.
FIVE: Don't listen to critics; just get on with the job that needs to be done.
SIX: Build your future on high ground.
SEVEN: For safety's sake, travel in pairs.
EIGHT: Speed isn't always an advantage ~
the snails were  on board with the cheetahs.
NINE: When you're stressed, float awhile.
TEN: Remember, the Ark was built by amateurs ~
the Titanic by professionals.
ELEVEN: No matter the storm, when you are with God,
there's always a rainbow waiting.
(Author unknown)

Interesting Facts
Mt. Ararat is located in eastern Turkey
on the border of Iran, Armenia (formerly U.S.S.R.) and Nakchivan.
This volcanic mountain rises 16, 945 feet high
far above the plains that are at 2,000 to 3,000 feet high.

According to the Bible, the global flood occurred approximately
4500 years ago.  The Bible states that the Ark was approximately
450 feet long, 45 feet wide and 75 feet high.
Noah and his family, along with all the animals God directed
to be inhabited and protected ...dwelt for 380 days
before the Ark came to rest in the mountains of Ararat.

(Ararat is derived from the name Urartu, from the Hebrew Torah
written by Moses ~ c.1480 BC.)

Merle Baird-Kerr
written August 22, 2011

“Every seed is awakened and so is all animal life.
It is through this mysterious power that we too, have our being
and we therefore yield to our animal neighbours
the same right as ourselves... to inhabit the land.”
(Sitting Bull)

Monday, August 22, 2011

"Passe" Terms ~ Cars, Stores, Fashions, Etc.

For Old-Timers

Recalling my father's old 1949 Buick, some of you readers
may not understand the descriptive words of autos of that era...
”Fender Skirts”...”Curb Feelers”...”Steering Knobs.”.
Do you remember “Continental Kits”?
When did we stop calling them “Emergency Brakes”?
At some point, 'parking brake' became the proper term.

I'm sad, too, that almost all the old folks are gone
who would call the accelerator the “Foot Feed”.
Many today to not even know what a “Clutch” is
or that the “Dimmer Switch” used to be on the floor.
Did you ever wait at the street for your daddy to come home,
so you could ride the “Running Board” up to the house?

In those days, “Turn Signals” were non-existent!
So easy, to wind down the window, extending your left arm
outside to indicate your intended turn...as done with bicyclists today.

Here's a phrase I heard all the time in my youth, but never anymore...
Store-Bought”. Of course, just about everything is store-bought today.
It was bragging material to have a “store-bought” dress or bag of candy.

Coast to Coast” is a phrase that once held all sorts of excitement and now
 means almost nothing. Now we take the term “World-Wide” for granted.

On a smaller scale, “Wall-to-Wall” was once a magical term in our homes.
In the 50's, everyone covered their hardwood floors with...wow...
wall-to-wall carpeting! Today, everyone replaces this
with hardwood floors. Times have changed!

When was the last time you heard the quaint phrase, “In a Family Way”?
It's hard to imagine that the word 'pregnant' was once considered
a little too graphic, a little too clinical for us in polite company,
so we all had to talk about
'stork visits' and being in 'a family way' or simply 'expecting'.

Apparently “Brassiere” is a word no longer in usage.
I said it the other day and the clerk cracked up! I guess it's just 'bra' now.
'Unmentionables' probably wouldn't be understood at all.

Most of those words go back to the 50's, but here's a pure 60's word
I came across the other day, “Rat Fink”. Ooh, what a nasty put-down!

Here's a word I miss ~ “Percolator”. That was a fun word to say.
And, what was it replaced with? 'Coffee-maker'. How Dull!

Food for Thought: Was there a telethon that wiped out “Lumbago”?
Nobody complains of that anymore. Maybe that's what 'castor oil' cured,
because I never hear mothers threatening kids with...castor oil...anymore.

Lastly consider Fashions that are now 'passe'.
Flapper Dresses” were so popular in “The Roaring Twenties”.
I recall the silk and lisle stockings with “Center Back Seams”
when they were available to purchase.
Fortunately, restrictive “Corsets” were before my day.
For men, there were “Zoot Suits”...
(high-waisted, wide-legged and tight cuffed).
Unknown to me until recently were “Wing Tips”...
men's shoes fashioned with toe caps (often of a different colour)
that come to a point in the center and spread outward to the sides
of the shoe (somewhat resembling wings).
Sometimes these wings were hole-perforated around the wing edges.

Mini Stories from Personal Experience

Every month or two, from spring to late autumn, “The Raleigh Man” (as my mother called him) came to rural communities, especially farms, to sell products from his vehicle that was well stocked. She was always most thrilled to see this salesman as he displayed spices, brushes, soaps, cleaning supplies, simple gastrointestinal problems, skin infections and arthritis), orange juice (similar to Honey Dew), chewing gum, candy and pipe tobacco. To my sister and me, he gave each a bag of candy. However, we detested the cod liver oil, mother insistently gave us daily! Disgusting!

In the late 1980's, and Andrew home from University, my mother's youngest sister passed away. We drove to the the rural community of Norwich, where my Aunt Luella and Uncle Bill lived, to attend the funeral service.
Going to cemeteries has never appealed to me; I chose to show my son the farm where my mother's parents (and her siblings were born and raised)...shot a few pictures of the location and farm structures. Following the “reception” at the church in Norwich, we drove home through Vanessa where my sister and I were born...the first farm my Dad had. We noted the farm across the gravelly/dirt road where my father's oldest brother, Jim, lived and whose daughters and son, my sister and I frequently played. Again, took a few photos of the red brick farm home. En route to Burford, the location of our second farm (and where I was raised until age 18), we discussed the method of “moving” from one farm to another. Yes...my Dad had a car, but would carry little content. He loaded the haywagon with furniture, tools, etc. making three trips...pulled by a pair of hefty horses. The distance was about 15 miles. My son thought this unbelievable!!! 
                                        His comments...remarkable!
Today we have moving vans or truck rentals for do-it-yourselvers...
for the country's many people 'on the move'. Just imagine, Mom,
50 or 60 years from now, how families will transport their furnishings!”

In those days, due to the inconvenience (and sometimes impossibility) of moving, families often lived their entire lives in one location, as did their following generation. How Dad moved then...is definitely “passe” today!

Of Interest: In Burford, we viewed the Public and High Schools which I attended...also the General Store where I worked on Saturdays for $2.00 a day during my teen ages. At the eastern edge of the village we observed that our 75 acre farm was now a residential development with paved streets. The yellow brick two-storey home now had a handsome addition with an attached garage.

My son was so delighted to see these “sort-of-ancestral-properties”. Upon arrival home, I assembled a small photo album into which I mounted the pictures and gave directions plus hand-drawn-maps to easily locate these rural areas. He now has this album to share with his sister, Marcia. Maybe one day he will take his family on this 'historic drive'. To revisit his great-grandparents' home (George and Lily Stone) ...would be phenomenal! Since then, he has, through research, developed a detailed “Family Tree” which has intrigued him greatly! That he accomplished this, gives me a a great sense of pride!

Just for fun...pass this article along to “others of a certain age”!

Consider this Prediction: 20, 30, 40 years from now...
what we today deem modern technology, fulfilled dreams and lifestyles
(as such that we believe)...will likely then be termed

You can then relate to your grandchildren...about Life in 2001.

Merle Baird-Kerr
written August 16, 2011

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Sounds of Nature . . .

I love to think of Nature as an unlimited broadcasting station
through which God speaks to us every hour if we will but tune in.”
(George Washington Carver)

When the Sun Goes Down ~

Relaxing on your patio or high-rise terrace
with lemonade, frosty beer or wine,
the moon reveals... its silvery self
and you revel...the serenity of the eve.

The humid stillness is pierced...cicadas' deafening calls.
Frogs begin their croaks from nearby ponds,
both lily and algae covered.
Crickets, it seems by hundreds in chorus,
incessantly sing...long into night.
From the branches of stately evergreens
hoot the owls... awaiting their nightly prey.
In the darkness of the woodlands,
wolves, in packs, eerily howl, on their nightly hunt.

Nature is Man's Teacher.
She unfolds her treasure to his search:
unseals his eyes, illumines his mind, and purifies his heart.”
(Alfred Billings Street)

When Dawn Breaks ~

It's 5:30 AM...dreading the sudden alarm!
The birds cheerily welcome the early morn
with melodious songs among the trees.
(a pleasant awakening to begin the day)

To residents on his farm, the rooster crows.
Mother hen...she happily clucks
laying her eggs in the strawy nest.
To their several goslings,
the geese...gobble,gobble, gobble.
Quack, quack...quacks the duck
...surveying his barnyard home.
Standing in stalls are the cows...
they moo to be fed and to release their milk.

”Look deep into Nature
and then you will understand everything.”
(Albert Einstein)

Savannahs and Jungles ~

The lions roar, protecting pride and lair.
Monkeys joyously screech swinging tree to tree.
With head above water in tropic temps,
the hippopotamus (“river-horse”) bellows... and deep grunts.
Serpents hiss to startle the wary foot.
The chatter-talk of parrots in the rain forests' lush...
so beautiful to see, so colourfully feathered.
Symbol of wisdom in Asian cultures...
the elephant “rumbles” in a ten-octave range
or when adversary-attacking, he loudly “trumpets”!

Subtleties and Senses ~

Trees are happy for no reason ~
they are not going to be Prime Minister or President;
they are not going to be rich and they will never have a bank balance.
Look at the flowers ~ for no reason.
It is simply unbelievable how happy flowers are.”

The Wind is both gentle and cruel, cooling and frigid.
We love it in summer when zephres waftly blow
to rustle the leaves with nature-coded message.
It may be a gale that's mightily destructive
or advantageous to man's... inventive “wind towers”.

Lightning and Thunder speak of forthcoming rain.
The flashing streaked sky and the big boom noise
are portents of a storm... impending.
We rush for shelter to escape Nature's Act!
The rain patters down...in a sprinkling shower,
dampening the street and refreshing the grass.
It may pour heavily, often clogging city sewers,
yet, benefiting farm crops...arid and thirsty.
The beauty of the rain...oft' a gorgeous rainbow
that speaks from God in the heavens above.

Water, Earth's liquid gold, we frequently disregard.
To survive on Earth, it IS an essential!
How peaceful the lake...how rugged ocean's shore!
Its allure calms turmoils and serenes our mind.
Mesmerized, we are, by waterfalls so scenic
as they tumble and cascade to deep rivers below.

In pioneer days, we depended on Fire
to heat abodes, to cook our hunted food.
Today, we “return to grass roots”... lighting a fire.
We hear the kindling crackling as orange flames ignite it.
The smoke swirls skyward like a signal in the night.
Roasting marshmallows...is an absolute delight!
BBQ's we love and sing by the fire...
as stars up above twinkle and twinkle!
YET, fire mishandled
costs us lives and dense forests destroyed!
(by a careless, a thoughtless and unconcerned deed)

Adopt the pace of Nature;
her secret is Patience.”
(Ralph Waldo Emerson)

The most peaceful vista, I've experienced
has not an oral sound...yet it speaks in the beauty of its silence.
Lay on a beach and look upward to the sky
or on a rocky ledge , o'erlooking the horizon.
Let go of your troubles, business woes and distress.
Outside the Box” is where you want to go!
The sky is blue or softly azure-hued.
Uniquely formed clouds drift through the sea
...with destiny unknown...
cotton-ball-puffy, they may be
dramatized 'gainst...their sea-of-blue;
they may be wispy and small, floating slowly eastward.
Oft' they are bustling and crowding, scudding the sky
as a freight train in motion whistles every crossing.
Nature has a talent ~ allows us to imagine
and re-invent out thinking...

Look at the trees; look at the birds;
look at the clouds; look at the stars...
and if you have eyes, you will be able to see
that the whole existence is joyful.”
(author unknown)

Man's heart, away from Nature, becomes hard.”
(Standing Bear)

Merle Baird-Kerr
written August 5, 2011

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Time Rolls By . . .

Rockton General Store and Deli

...will close its doors Saturday evening bringing to an end seven decades of tradition in the historic stone structure. The building has housed a store and postal outlet since 1939. Its history as a hotel and tavern dates back to the 1790's. The owners state, “ It's a reality! Everyone is going to the big stores, so what can you do? The little guy can't compete.”
(Rockton is a sleepy little farm village near Highway 8, northwest of Reg. Rd. 5.)

This article in the July 30th issue of The Spectator stirred memories of several times I deliciously breakfasted there on a Saturday or Sunday morning.

My daughter occasionally rode “Sundash” or “Roadrunner's Sugar” in equestrian shows held at Rockton World's Fair Grounds...across the quiet village street from the General Store. Parents of riders from the stables in Oakville gathered like “family” to enjoy the camaraderie and the friendly atmosphere of this quaint  diner.

Rockton is best known as “The Biggest Little World Fair in the World” ~
held every Thanksgiving weekend. Truly a magnificent farm display...thousands attend yearly ...lured by numerous events: the food venues, the many farm animals, the judging, the fall attractions of spectacular autumn colour and impressive horse shows with many competitors in both hunter and jumper classes. Rodeo events are often featured.

The Diner/General Store in Palermo

I reflect on another significant change. When parents drove riders to Bertin Stables (Oakville) in early mornings to prepare their horses for loading into trailers for out-of-town shows, several parents met at the nearby diner in Palermo along what is now Regional Road 5. Here we coffee'd and chatted while enjoying the Breakfast Special prior to attending the horse show. Now, it is History! Today, Tim Horton's on this site, offers its fare of pastries, sandwiches and TH coffee...and Palermo's little diner is almost forgotten.

The Hamilton-Wentworth Board of Education Building

Of interest to me is this prominent  building located at the corner of Bay and Main Streets. It is a beautiful piece of white civic architecture.  As a teacher, I entered its doors frequently, always admiring this edifice built in 1966. Today, the education business plans to relocate to larger premises on Hamilton Mountain. McMaster University has a vital interest in this location ~ with a plan to demolish the building and construct a new Medical training center. There is a mighty outcry by Heritage people for its preservation... a structure that has become an icon- entry to downtown Hamilton.

The Refrigerator

Years ago, living on a farm until I was 18, we lacked many amenities common to cities and towns e.g. indoor plumbing, central heating, cooling systems and nearby recreation centers. We did have electricity, the privilege of growing vegetables and fruit, the wide open spaces of acreage farmland separated only by fences; we also had several farm animals.

One day my father asked, “Edna, if I buy you a refrigerator, would you make ice-cream for me?” She was delighted and most heartily agreed! Imagine ~ a modern Kitchen Appliance!!!

Cook Books

My Dad loved to eat and greatly appreciated the solid three meals a day my mother prepared... breakfast, dinner and supper. (Because of the daily farm labour, the main course of the day was at noontime.) She was a gifted and talented cook, often creating recipes. She had no Cook Books...all ingredients,  measurements and "know-how" were in her memory bank!

Woodchucks, who constantly burrowed holes for their homes in the ground, were often destructive to crops and low-riding-machinery. So it was, with rifle in hand, Dad accosted these creatures...shortening their life spans. However, one speciality he loved...numerous times he shot a rabbit and joyfully brought it home for my Mom to prepare “Rabbit Stew”! To him, this was a wonderfully delicious delicacy!

I comment here, that whenever we helped Mom in the kitchen, we were directed what to measure and how to prepare the meal. When I was anticipating marriage, she lovingly wrote her recipes and gave them to me in a bound booklet...My Lifesaver!

The Big Depression

After several years of raising cattle, which required twice daily milking, Dad replaced them with a hundred or more Shropshire sheep. My sister and I loved the lambs born each spring, naming each one and identifying them as they grew. He bought a Border Collie puppy, whom we named Billie; he trained her to herd the rams, ewes and lambs. He also bought a duck which my sister and I claimed as “our pet”. Joey was such a joy, humorous in his actions as he quacked, quacked, quacked his territory; he loved the sheep, often resting on their backs while they were asleep.

My parents were married during the depression years when “plentiful” was not often possible. At Christmas we cut a tree from our farm to decorate and had a wonderful dinner. We raved about the preserved vegetables my mother served, potatoes from the cellar which she scalloped, pie of elderberries which she had picked...(with purply-stained- fingers) from nearby wild bushes and kept frozen in the refrigerator's freezer (and of course served with ice-cream which she had perfected). We wondered about the roasted meat...was it turkey? It wasn't beef...and wasn't lamb. Next day we looked for Joey (our pet duck) who could not be found. Dad calmly told us that he had traveled to “duck heaven”! My sister and I cried!

Time Does Roll By...in the Name of Progress

Consider the changes in Communication Systems.
Consider the air planes that long ago broke the Sound Barrier.
Consider the Fashion Industry...even “retro clothing” is again fashionable.
Consider Planetary Exploration...who'd believe Man would land on the Moon?
Consider the great evolution of cars from the Model T Ford.
Consider the Transportation Systems in cities and towns.
Consider the revolution of Housing projects.

The following quote is so significant and so pertinent at this time...we now wonder what "tomorrow holds" and  "what our future will unfold".

"Our days are a Kaleidoscope.
Every instant, a change takes place in its contents:
new harmonies, new contrasts, new combinations
of every sort."  (Henry Ward Beecher) 

Merle Baird-Kerr
(written July 31, 2011)

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Nuisance to Miracle (Part IV)

Final Chapter of "My Mourning Doves"

August 29 (Sunday)...continued from Part III
9:15 AM Returning to “my family”, I 'm enjoying delicious peach flapjacks with syrup, sausages and hot coffee, anxiously awaiting today's activity.
A little action from Henry as he extends his wings upward,
performing a little grooming.
Now, standing tall...Heather becomes alert and Papa remains still.
He flexes his wings again...grooms a little more...flexes his wings.
Perhaps he has a burst of energy!
Heather begins her preening...then Henry returns to grooming.
Heather squats comfortably...Henry walks behind Papa and her.
She now flexes her wings upward, then again.
Henry is most anxious to do something!...but grooms a bit more,
then steps forward proudly displaying his 2 inch tail
of brown and white feathers.
Papa remains as still as a statue...and now Heather contemplates.

9:25 AM The moon is now lowered...visible between the wide-spaced 
2nd and 3rd wires from the top.

Heather re-squats while Henry continues to groom...Heather further preens.
Papa is totally unmoved by these proceedings...except for rapid eye-blinking.
She extends her wings upward and flexes them...Henry does likewise.
Then each continues with personal preening and grooming!
Heather earnestly flaps and flutters her wings with rises of 2 inches off the chair.
Henry does the same...showing her how He can now Spring to the Chair Arm!!!
Both are re-fed by Papa briefly.
They shove and push each other for position beside Papa.
They now settle...crouched into the nest.

Now 9:45 AM   These little birds!  When ~ are they going to attempt further little jumps and flight? So much preening and grooming! I need to prepare for my 10 AM Bridge game online.
10:45 AM As “dummy”, I check on my little birds' progress. Papa is on the nest with the two; then at 10:50 they are alone; at 11:08, H and H quiet with one parent who has joined them.
12 Noon....same scenario...on this pale blue cloudless sky day. Heather is very restless...Papa stands and Mama observes patiently from a wire. At 12:25 family is calm. Rosie then soars away on swift wings like an eagle.
12:45 PM Exchange of Parent (hearing the Twitters from my kitchen).
2:00 PM From my computer, the twitters invite me to find Papa with one fledgling in the nest. the other on the chair.
2:15 PM Henry jumps to the chair arm and waits;
Rosie flutters her return and gives each some “energy food”
then stands atop the nest's edge;
Henry and Heather nestle side by side like twins.
2:20 PM Henry is determined to try again...EASILY he reaches the chair arm
and surveys the situation...”What's next?”, he asks...returns to the chair base.

Heather gets her wings in motion...her attempt, a little improved.
Henry is so confident he flies again to the arm...and struts his stuff!
Now it's back to Mama...Heather needs a little rest, crouched in the nest.
Henry is undecided...in the interim, he tends to some grooming;
then nestles beside his sister.

4:45 PM I observe Henry and Heather in this fast deteriorating nest. It's a hot sun and cloudless day. I view only one dove on a far wire.  Family is quiet...I wonder if the day's flying lessons have ended.

7:00 PM Fledglings are crouched together; 3 doves, high-wired, from here scan the neighbourhood.
For Henry, jumping to the chair arm is now a cinch!
Rosie swoops from a nearby roof to the corner rail.
Heather flutters her wings, yearning so much to jump as Henry.
Mama advances to the chair base.
Henry, noticing this, jumps from the arm to get a quick feeding.
Heather waits...pondering her progress.
Henry, proud of his flying achievement,
jumps to the arm once more to savour his new skill.
When he descends, he lands on Mama's back...she is Not Amused!!!
...so quickly twitters away to her high wire.
Seems that Heather, one day younger than Henry
will accomplish tomorrow what he did today!

9:00 PM Now dark outside, except for the city lights and those of vehicles. Yes, a parent is nestled with the fledglings.

11:30 PM All peaceful and silently still;  the night air is cool and refreshing.

6:30 AM The darkness of night is waning and the air cool; Rosie and two are cuddly warm.
7:20 AM The musical twitters announce Papa's arrival.
7:30 AM Lovely for a Photo...Papa facing backward, with the 2 horizontal to him, each facing opposite directions. The sky predicts a wonderful-weather-day...pale blue sky with softly floating clouds...the 1/2 moon is unseen.  Bird chatter from the trees ensues with tweet, tweet, tweets  to   ch, ch, ch, ch, ch's to see-ya, see-ya, see-ya and chirpedly, chirpedly, chirpedly...and a chorus of repeats.
7:40 AM Rosie flew the nest with her melodic rapid twitters, wing and tail feathers spread, sweeping over the railing to a new wire, momentarily only, then back in my direction and over the roof tops... I sight her on a hydro wire in the next section of poles...followed with a wide sweep westward over the street...perhaps she is checking the flight paths for safety!

Heather begins her morning beautification ritual.
Rosie settles at last on a high wire near me...then remains poised
...her rosy tinted beige breast, warmed by this early cast of sun
as Papa joins her.
Henry flutters to the chair arm pressed against the balcony uprights
(a new location), then with his trusted skill, flutters across to the other arm.
Heather stands center of chair, flaps her wings
and with a big thrust and with a clumsy-like struggle,
she lands on the arm beside Henry!...Great Success for Her!
Henry hops down to the chair seat, then does a “repeat performance”.
Heather hops down to the chair seat...considering a 2nd attempt.
With wing and tail energy, she reaches the arm
with feet sliding to a stop on its smooth surface!
SURPRISE: Henry leaps from this arm to the top of the long railing!!!
Heather remains on her "flight achievement"!
(The parents leave the wire...satisfied with their offsprings' Success.)
7:58 AM Papa flies in...to the back railing which triangle-forms.
He at the apex, Henry on the balcony railing, Heather still positioned
on her Arm of Accomplishment!
Papa flutters down to the chair and feeds Henry with great thrusts;
then all is quiet...both H and H crouch into a cosy position...
their tails prominently displaying dark browns and white feathers.
Seems their tails are at least 2 1/2 inches in length now...
I fathom at their growth in these 2 weeks.
8:05 AM Another “practice jump" to the chair arm (Henry).
Both fledglings are anxious.
Heather tests her skill with jump to the Arm and succeeds.
(They return to Papa...it is apparent that Henry plans to attempt something!)
He puffs and ruffles these wing tips (sort of pine-cone shaped).
Papa and Heather are very quiet and calm.
Henry crouches on this Arm forever, it seems.
8:25 AM I must tend to a few household tasks.
(Henry has held this Arm position for 20 minutes without a move.)
8:50 AM It is Papa plus the 2 who”Preen and Groom”.
(I occasionally check the scene...no change.)

10:05 AM From inside I hear the usual Twitter, Twitters...
realizing that Papa has left...perhaps Rosie returned...
I go to have a look...only Henry and Heather are present.
10:30 AM I hear, Twitter, Twitters again...unable to check at the moment.

“Oh, Where, Oh Where have they Gone?”


I check at 12:45 PM and again at 1 PM...I glance everywhere...on the driveway below...(no bodies)...to the wires that Papa and Rosie so frequented...I listened for “Twitters”. I conclude that They Must Be Safe...Somewhere! I feel saddened...yet so pleased to have observed these babies when hatched...then matured within two weeks to these adorable FLEDGLINGS!

Research tells me that they may return to the nest from time to time...up to 30 days of age...until they master the Art of Flying!

August 31 (Tuesday) 5:15 AM 2 Doves on the wires...then 3
5:30 AM Only 1 remains
5:45 AM 3 appear...2 smaller ones...is this My Family?
5:50 AM An adult “twitters off” then one small one gone; the remaining dove remains 5 minutes more.
6:00 AM From the roof line above, came a Dove to my front rail; looks smaller than adult size...is it Henry or Heather? At 6:15 AM flew off to join others.
6:18 AM A visiting Dove to the back railing sat perched for several minutes...perhaps a young male searching for a “mate-nest”. Still observing him, as time indicates 6:30...he appears to be decision making! He steps forward to the nest to investigate(?) His habits are not those of My Doves.  He flutters back to the chair arm, then a short flight to the railing. Sitting on small pink feet, he nervously looks around ...then side-steps along the black railing to the corner. His head jerkingly moves from side to side.. spreading his wings and tail, flies off to the lower tree branches.

September 1 (Wednesday) 6:30 AM Just wondered if any of my Mourning Dove Family overnight-ed in their raggedly, almost dilapidated nest. Two doves were perched about 30 feet apart on the lower telephone wires across from my balcony. They remain for about 15 minutes before swooshing away over the treetops. There are several neighbouring twitters as they soar with spread wing and tail feathers. The numerous trees, the residential homes, the telephone and hydro wires along the bike-path...all are welcome invitations to “home-nest” here!

The day is calm; the sky of grayish-blue, this early morn;
the small soft white clouds delicately pink-fringed float ever so lazily
...all deliver a morning message ~
This is a New Day! A New Life!
Another Day to Experience! Another Day to Enjoy!


September 22 (Wednesday) 8:45 AM I open my patio door...wondering if I had any balcony visitors during my vacation in Tennessee. Three doves are perched on nearby telephone and hydro wires...then another three-group on lower wires. Are these Mine? I photo them as they are spaced 7-8 inches apart...no twitters, no “bird talk”. One preens/grooms its feathers. At 9:05 one flies to the East and at 9:15, another swooshes eastward; a couple others arrive . A few sparrows do a fly-by...three or four perch on wires for a brief morning chat.....C'est la Vie!

Throughout this Odyssey, I have experienced and learned much
about the Relationship between Humans and Mourning Doves.


During “pregnancy” the Parents share the Time and Effort
to bring the Babies into fruition.
They feed their young with “milk” to nourish them for their start in Life.
They provide Shelter (from the Storm) and Care for their Family
with whatever means they have.
They care and Protect their Young to help them prepare
for a Life Beyond the Nest...
often “pushing them out” to Fly on their Own.

               It is a Story of Affection, of Peace in a harsh Landscape.
               It is a Story of Violence in often a World of troubled people.
               It is a Story of Love and Devotion to One's Partner.
               It is a Story of Love for one's Offspring.
               It is a Story of Love and Life Lost.
               It is a Story of Grief, Sadness and Sorrow.
               YET, One of a New Life, Rebirth
               and a Story of Gentleness...
               (as told by Papa and Rosie Dove, Henry and Heather Dove).

The Mourning of the Dove
reflects the hidden emotions stored within...
how you perceive its sound...
often reflects the experiences
we are playing out in Life!”

Merle Baird-Kerr
written September 22, 2010

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Nuisance to Miracle (Part III)

August 21 (Saturday) 8:00 AM Fatty- looking- Mama is fully hunched over her nest...keeping her children warm.
8:30 AM Henry and Heather are very active...Mama feeds them only briefly this morning and still performing her motherly task of shelter. With a stern look at these fledgelings seeking more food, she admonishes them, “End of That!” I firmly believe that prior to 8:30, the exchange of parent had occurred...since I see Papa nowhere!

Mid Afternoon: Papa's body begins to “tremble” and is a-move...Henry and Heather must be asleep. Resting on his reddish-pink feet, with chest a-top H's back (cross-ways), he remains calm during this nap-time. The fuzz on their bodies is beginning to resemble hair or the “sprouting”of fine feathers.

5:15 PM From the computer, I hear, “Twitter, Twitter, Twitter”...pulling the sheer drape aside, I view Rosie on the railing...the “overnight shift” has arrived! I've recently noted that when either parent huddles on the nest, their below breast feathers are fluffed to look like “soft down”, which probably insulates, providing warmth.

August 22 (Sunday) 8:30 AM Rain all night...water droplets hanging like crystals from the railing and top of all four wrought iron chairs. Rosie, tucked tightly into her body, has her wing feathers stretched to cover Henry and Heather...the outer edges of the nest are drenched!

9:00 AM Papa has arrived on the highest wire..but soon disappears. H and H are mobile...one spreads its wing, showing great feather development...like a colourful fan, which when opened, reveals what has been hidden within its folds.

9:45 AM Papa quietly descends to his family...with gentle “twitter, twitter, twitters”. Rosie left the nest. Henry and Heather vie for immediate attention!!! They both stand in front of him, reaching up to his beak. He feeds Henry who is ravenously hungry...and as I have observed previously, Heather has a brief feeding.

Constant rain falls...mist often being blown and sifting into the balcony area.
1:20 PM Rain has ceased...only fine mist hanging in the still air. I carry my novel, the crossword puzzle and fruit to my “terrace”...the railings and chair tops are bejewelled with droplets...easy to “imagine and dream” that I am the Lady of the Lord's Manor...overlooking “our spread” of rich land and fountain-ed small lake! Back to Reality! Papa pays me no attention, accepting that I am a common factor to this domicile of theirs.

3:00 PM My friend, Pary arrives. I introduce her to Papa, Henry and Heather. She is amazed that I am so trusted by these Mourning Doves! We are enjoying lemon soda and not cognisant that Mama is perched on the high wire...waiting! We are silent and still...unwanting to affect their avian activity. My doves are wary of this “foreign” addition to their home environment. Rosie waits a long time before venturing to do anything. I read “what her problem is”...I leave Pary on the furthest chair away from the nesting chair...to prepare dinner of yellow beans, tomatoes and micro-waved lasagna. I check...Yes, Rosie is still on high-wire-inspection! Papa patiently waits for the “Exchange of Duty”. Just as I bring our hot dinner plates, Rosie flights with swooshing wings to the railing...there she sits posted for ever-so-long! She considers this “flaw” that has entered her world...very unsure and uncertain with 2 humans! We ignore her as we quietly, without conversation, eat our dinner. When, to her the “coast seems clear”, she swoops to her family. Henry and Heather are very visible...about 1/2 the size of the parents. Pary is so impressed and awed!
Mama commences immediately to feed one fledgling...with strong and forceful pumping of food into H's hungry mouth...incessantly! The unfed H circles its neck around the feeding one, as 2 swans would embrace...trying to grasp for food. Pary is astounded watching the interplay between Parent and Child.
These fledglings are now 7 and 8 days old.

August 23 (Monday) 8:30 AM Windy, Cool , Gray Skies Today! Too dull to photo my Birds. Rosie stands with feet planted at back of nest (her tail extended beyond it, to allow space for her children to sit side by side who totally fill the nest)...their colouring blends so perfectly with the nest's earth tones.

8:55 AM A new location for Papa...high telephone wire past the Post!
9:00 AM He flutters down to the railing behind Rosie...”twitter, twitter, twitter, twitter”...and she responds with “twitter, twitter, twitter”. They exchange duty roles. Papa begins the Breakfast Ordeal with strong thrusts of food being again pumped into empty hungry mouths. He then remains still for a moment, then forcefully begins again...it's a push and push exercise in attempts to being fed sufficiently. From all this exertion, time to calm down and rest! All is quiet! Too chilly for me out here...now 9:15 AM.

3:30 PM As I finish preparing a casserole for dinner, I hear “twitter, twitter, twitter” again. Gathering my notes, camera and novel, pay a visit to my family...Henry and Heather ALONE on the nest...like little adult birds! Resting side by side, their bodies breathe and move together. “Where is Papa?”, I wonder. Nor far away...sitting on a high wire...observing. After 10 minutes, he flies away.

4:00 PM “Twitter, Twitter, Twitter” on the rail is a parent behind Henry and Heather, who pay attention. Their wings are a mottled light gray and beige; chests and head similar colour to the wings and dark bills.
4:25 PM “Twitter, Twitter,Twitter”. (I ask, “Has this been a training session? ...to cope on their own while the parents observe from a distance).
As mist begins to roll in, Rosie stands at the outside edge of nest to feed H...with forcible actions from both Mama and H. Her wings pressure outwards as she thrusts nourishment into him/her. Other H tries with difficulty to force Mama's beak into its mouth. She spends 7 minutes with this one feeding! Both become quiet and huddle under her fluffed feathers...H and H are restless...and flex their wings....amazing how their wing span has developed with feathers contouring over the ribs that hold them.

August 24 (Tuesday) 8:45 AM It's a dull overcast day...I missed the morning exchange. Papa stands tall with his feet planted near the outer edge of nest. Henry and Heather are nestling side by side with their beaks pressed into his breast. Their bodies show quick tremors of heart beats.
9:40 AM Active, they are as Papa steps between them...they sit upright and are very alert. A bird “tweet, tweets” in a nearby treetop with numerous repeats of the same message...finally a response of “ch ch ch ch ch ch ch” several times as they discuss morning happiness.

3:00 PM Sunlight beginning to radiate “family room”. Papa standing with H behind his back feet and H resting her head on the top of the nest edge as a pillow under his chin...really a cute scene!

7:15 PM Papa is alert...why? On a far hydro wire sits Rosie. The family patiently waits. He huddles to one side with the fledglings beside him. About 20 minutes ago a long Bell Telephone laddered truck parked in the driveway below...this is possibly the cause for delay of Duty Exchange. Soon it motors away. Papa with a joyous heart flies away into the blue sky. Rosie, now the Prime Protector.

August 25 (Wednesday) 7:20 AM Cool Air! Henry and Heather ALONE! They fill the nest! I observe further development in their wings and feathers...contoured almost artistically with cream, lining the exterior edges. They sit feather-ruffled with head and neck inward-tucked (as do Mama and Papa) to keep warm..Their tail feathers still remain quite short. I approach slowly to study them. I have noticed from time to time, a parent pecking away at something in the nest...I also note there are flecks of white and black on the weathered twigs and grass. Below the chair is what appears to be “broken black and white tidbits”...possibly fallen through the wrought iron spacings. The nest is full of these black and white “pellets”. My guess? These are hardened pieces of “bathroom excrement” (crap). I wonder if there is any nourishment in these dried pellets. Peering so closely at them and the interior of the nest, Henry and Heather show a little fright. I sight no location of either parent! (One may have “twittered” away just prior to my opening the door.)

Mourning Dove Chats”

Papa is perched on the highest telephone wire across from the nest. He is profiled starkingly against the blue cloudless sky. He flew away, then returned to the same perch, facing opposite direction. In a few minutes a second dove perches a few feet from him on same wire...they walk towards each other...then both playfully flitter to a lower wire with a twitter, twitter, twitter. Then with a final exchange of twitters, one flies away. Papa, from his 4th wire position oversees the situation. Isn't a telephone pole for conversation? A couple more arrive to sit atop this telephone pole...the fly-away dove returns to join the 4-way conversation. When one pole-top dove flies away, Papa decides to become King of the Pole...and commands this “posting” until He only remains. “Time to visit the family,” he decides.

8:10 AM He feeds from his stance outside the nest. Both are anxiously awaiting Breakfast! Both stretchhhhhhhhh to reach the mouth that feeds them. They flutter their beautiful wings a bit...one does a dramatic pose of wing span....perhaps to draw Papa's attention. He steps into the nest, their enthusiasm wanes and must settle for “a quiet time”.

9:45 AM Another top-wire Dove...I believe there must be several families in this Dove-Haven neighbourhood. There are constant bird chants from the trees: Whee, Whee,Whee...Be, Be, Be...Be, Be, Be...Cheer up, Cheer up, Cheer up...Tweet, Tweet, Tweet...and now, where is Freedom Bird? Papa stands upright in the nest as I leave at 9:55. Henry and Heather are napping.

6:20 PM Again, Henry and Heather ALONE on the nest. Time for parents to give them a taste of freedom? The sun warms...gentle breezes waft their feathers as dusk approaches.
6:55 PM Sleek Mama “twitters” her approach to the railing, observing the cuddling fledglings...from this perch she squats on her tiny pink feet. After a few minutes, she flies with a couple twitters to the nest. Voracious Feeding Time! Henry and Heather physically struggle to get the first feeding. Who is in control here?...necks stretch...the wings flap...strength and determination wins!

August 26 (Thursday) 8:00 AM Rosie, here with Henry and Heather...I wonder if Papa has been here yet on this chilly morning. One snuggles below Mama's wing...the other cuddled within his feathers.
8:45 AM This may be Papa who “feets himself” at back of the nest with long tail feathers protruding through the metal work of the chair...on this blue-sky morning.
8:50 AM Mourning Dove is upright and being the Protector, as a sparrow alights the balcony rail...and tweet, tweet, tweets...then flies away to unite with other airborne sparrows...more Tweet conversations on the hydro high wire. Now another sparrow trio present their morning renditions. At 9:30 AM I retreat inside for a sweater...aren't these doves chilly?

3:00 PM Papa, Henry and Heather...a beautiful Family Picture...wish Rosie to be here with them too!
5:40 PM At the computer, I hear the familiar Twitter, Twitter, Twitter...I glance outside...2 fledglings side by side fill the nest. Alone! Papa must have left.
6:00 PM Henry and Heather rapidly growing and fast maturing! Opposite me, wire-sitting is Rosie and Papa who keep guiding eyes on their “teens”. Mama flies to my railing side to display her sleek figure...very trim, alluring...dainty feet...a calm demeanour...groomed feathers...graceful neck...long tapered tail...trusting spirit! What more could a male be seeking??? I capture this svelte model on film.
She flutters to the nest. H and H gravitate quickly to be first in line!

August 27 (Friday) Shift Change at 10:00 AM...the signal is Twitter, Twitter, Twitter. (It is evident the parents have these young ones in training to become independent as it may not be long before they leave the nest for brief periods of time...then permanently by the time they age to 30 days.) Henry and Heather are alone again this morning...Rosie and Papa cannot be far away. It seems that the nest is deteriorating...some grasses and twigs broken off and lost...the weight of the birds alone would easily crush the shallow base.
5:15 PM I notice a Mourning Dove perched on a nearby telephone wire...soon joined by another on a lower wire...the two had a playful game flitting to various wire levels, before deciding to share this high position. Much further along, 3 or 4 other doves arrived...I believe this is Dove Haven! Suddenly, 3 or 4 sparrows gathered for their afternoon rendez-vous, then spirited away into the open azure sky.

6:15 PM Rosie, from her high wire, swooshed on easy wing to the railing near my table. How sleek-looking she was...as previously described.
7:30 PM It appears that Henry and Heather will have the nest to themselves tonight...no Papa or Mama around...they snuggle close together for warmth and companionship.
11:30 PM Good Night Fledglings and Happy Bird Dreams!

August 28 (Saturday) 7:30 AM Henry and Heather alone! I return to make blueberry pancakes, brew fresh aromatic coffee and prepare a tray with syrup, cream and cutlery to enjoy the morning freshness.
8:20 AM “Twitter, Twitter, Twitters” call me to exit the kitchen. Carrying my tray, fresh water for my family, the comics and puzzle from the Spec...also pen and note pad...Papa on the nearest railing, greets me Good Morning. He hops to the deteriorating nest, planting his feet outside it. Henry and Heather sudden to the fact that Breakfast can be had! Henry, on his now well-developed legs, stands almost to Papa's height.

The Chorus Line

On the far hydro tower, 2 doves appear, then 3 others space themselves in generally the same area. Numerous other birds chirp to welcome "Our Morning Chatter”. Chirp, Chirp, Chirps and Tweet, Tweet, Tweets with echoing responses...occasional air-flights from the surrounding  trees and park-like bike path area... da, da, das...ch, ch, ch, ch, chs. A few sparrows flit from nearby  bushes to join the assembly of ...too-too-too-toos and freedom, freedom, freedom! Then, joyfully, all wing off to another destination of choice.

2:50 PM Just returned from London, Ontario, accompanying a friend. Papa is “feeted” inside the nest...Henry and Heather facing outward in the same direction...family very calm.
3:05 PM Quietly, on their feet, Henry preens his feathers and fluffs them while Papa oversees...now Heather does likewise...their feather contours resemble budding pine cones. Henry stretches to full height and displays the full span of his wings (reminds me of a teenager flexing his newly developed muscles)...fluttering them a few times...so magnificent! Papa remains still as a statue, with a look of pride and complacency as the two stand side by side. “Like Father, Like Son”! Heather remains in her crouched position (napping?). This complete Preen-and-Groom in their Sun-Shiny-Spa took about 35 minutes. Henry's dramatic wing-flapping to me indicted possibly, that he might be preparing for flight. Show time is now over...and calm again reigns. Time now 3:45 PM.

4:55 PM Henry and Heather....Alone Again!
6:00 PM Rosie perched on the the telephone wire. Shortly thereafter, I spot 2 other doves between the next pair of poles. Twitter, Twitter, Twitter, I hear at 6:45 observing that she descended to the corner of railing behind the nest-chair. After 5 minutes, she twitters and flutters to the chair edge. Henry and Heather are totally undisturbed. But when Rosie walks to the twiggy room, she voraciously feeds them. Mama's wings and those of the fledglings are fully extended outwards, exerting much motion. (Amazing to see the effect of the wings and physical energy in the pumping of food into their mouths...with their bodies in full action!)

Henry stands tall reaching to Mama's beak. Heather clamours to her for attention as well. Rosie is erect, stands still and is most serene. The fledgelings are suddenly “hushed” by her demeanour! She remains stalwart!...as though to say, “That's All There Is.” They nestle together.

6:55 PM Rosie Twitter, Twitter, Twitters...and Flies Away! A moment later, she flies to the rail, 3 feet from where I sit...the closest she has ever flown, facing me; she now turns, standing horizontally on the rail...”Pretty Bird...So Lovely You Are,” I tell her. She remains a couple minutes in this pose. Suddenly, it is Twitter, Twitter, Twitter and off to the lowest wire, directly across from me. (I have no interpretation for this little scene.)

7:10 PM She Twitters and flutters to the railing behind the nest...she sits patiently...observing...then 3 minutes later, jumps to the arm of the chair...steps to the nest...and with great determination, feeds them again...Henry and Heather respond with tremendous energy, spreading their wings and flexing their tails...I observe that the fledglings have developed a few white feathers to accent the browns.

7:20 PM Twitter, Twitter, Twitter...suddenly swooping to her high wire.
9:30 PM and 10:30 PM...I check..in the dark of the night...and verify that Rosie rests at the back of the nest with Henry and Heather crouched in front. This has been an Interesting Day!

August 29 (Sunday) Two Weeks Ago, One Egg was Opened to Reveal Henry! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

5:30 AM It's early dawn...Rosie with her Fledgelings.
6:30 AM Henry and Heather Alone ...occupy the nest; Mama and Papa not sighted anywhere.
7:00 AM Mourning Doves...8 of them...on the wires. Papa swiftly swoops to the railing with a flutter landing. I try to photo this gathering on the wires, silhouetted against the pale blue morning sky...is this a premonition??? A series of events occur...which I describe singly:

Papa hops to the chair and instigates brief feedings.
Then Mama flies to the railing before her flutter to the chair.
She also feeds them briefly...Papa disappears;
H & H rest in a crouched manner...for a moment or two.
Both fledglings step out of the nest to the chair seat (first time observing this);
Papa returns: The Family!
Henry and Heather flex their wings and extend them upwards several times.
One dove lights on the balcony roof adjacent to me;
and 5 observing from the high wires.
(I am confident these little birds will be attempting to fly today.)
'They each try to “twitter a bit” and exercise their almost fully developed wings.
Henry and Heather appear anxious with anticipation of some kind
...very anxious they are!
Henry engages in wing-flapping...Heather does the same!
7:15 AM Henry is definitely preparing! ... with nervous energy!
(Their tails are about 2 inches long...when they flex their wings;
they also widen to reveal white feathers edging the browns.)
Both fledglings are extremely fidgety!
I believe the Parents told them, “You Must Attempt To Fly Today!”
( comment here that the distance to the chair arm is about 12 inches;
their next level would be from the arm to the railing...another 15 inches.)
“Time to Go!”...H and H seem to “body-language”
as they stand side by side in the nest.
They peer through the fine mesh along the balcony uprights...remaining quiet.

There is no breeze; the sun begins to cast its rays on the Town Homes
across from the bike path,
then spreading across the green lawns to the street scape.

7:35 AM I view Rosie or Papa wire-sitting above the sidewalk to my extreme left. Interesting that above in the sky is an almost 1/2 moon, silvery white. Now 2nd dove perches near the other on a lower wire; a sparrow joins them, then quickly flits away. A few bird chirps I hear in nearby trees...another sparrow slowly wings around. Echoing from a far distance are a series of bird twitters.

7:45 AM 6 doves together on 2 parallel wires; perhaps they all had advance notice of the fledglings' anticipated attempts to fly.
7:50 AM Henry and Heather are again fidgety...fluffing wing feathers...displaying nervous energy. They preen and groom their chest feathers...exercise their wings....standing quietly in opposite directions. Papa flies to the corner railing, standing erect. Heather and Henry huddle in the nest...waiting. This may be an all-day-event before they succeed.

Incredible that I woke at 5:30, then rose at 6:30...seems I was destined to have the occasion to view this sequence of activity. I have several tasks to accomplish today in preparation for Monday and Tuesday appointments, prior to driving to Buffalo to meet Sol and on to Tennessee for a Wedding Reception.

8:12 AM Rosie twitters to the family...immediately “pumps food into one hungry mouth” as H stands with wings in constant motion. Other hungry mouth agitatingly waits. Feeding time, 3 minutes.
Henry makes great effort, with his wing and tail thrusts to raise himself above the chair seat;  but. alas...no!  He retreats to the nest.

Both parents now in attendance, as though to say, “How are we doing?”
Papa flies away...Rosie waits 3 minutes, peering keenly at her family;
the other fledgling she now feeds for 3 minutes.
She then stands tall and very serenely.
These are so well developed and beautiful little doves.
Are these energy boosters for flight attempts?
Henry tries very strenuously to fly as he quickly flaps his wings;
he jumps about 3 inches off the chair!
He pecks away at his feathers (to fill in time?)
Papa stands quietly, feet planted inside the nest. All are calm.

The silvery moon still rides high in the morning blue sky. Rosie flees and perches on a low wire in front of me. She begins to preen herself in the warm sunlight...about 12 minutes with this beautification process.
9:05 AM I require coffee and Breakfast...shall return. Henry and Heather sit like a pair of ornamental birds...wish I could sculpt this pose...with Papa standing behind them. The moon has altered its sky location..having slid lower to be viewed between the two upper telephone wires.

(to be continued ~ Part IV)

Merle Baird-Kerr
written August 30, 2010