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"More and more I felt that [my wife] was present, that she was with me; I had the feeling
that I was able to touch her, able to stretch out my hand and grasp hers.
The feeling was very strong: she was there. Then, at that very moment,
a bird flew down silently and perched just in front of me, on the heap of soil
which I had dug up from the ditch, and looked steadily at me."
Victor E. Frankl, Man's Search For Meaning

(The following entry was originally a blog post.)

Nature Girl, Part I
Jan 31, 2007

I haven't been doing a lot of reading or meditating or anything these days, unless you count my runs as meditation. Which I do. I got an iPod for Christmas, so I get to sail along with my tunes in my head. But sometimes I like to go out without the tunes and just listen to nature.

On one run this fall I was in Fish Creek Park and I passed a young family on the bridge. The little girl was chattering away about something and the little boy, who was still in a stroller, was gibberishing excitedly toward the creek. I heard the little girl say something to her mother, followed by a "Right mama?" I was still fighting a bit of empty nest depression and suddenly dissolved into tears. Immediately, years of "Right mom?" delivered with bright, shining eyes, came back to me and I knew I'd never have that back. I'm glad I had already passed them and that no one was coming from the other direction, as I must have looked pretty stupid, blubbering away like a fool. My heart was heavy and aching as I moved on.


I had just read a book about communicating with animals and I was still weeping and walking when I came upon some bushes in the park that had some little chickadees flitting around in them, so I thought I'd try "communicating." I stood and gazed at one little fellow and sent him some friendly thoughts. I swear, he stopped what he was doing, looked me dead in the eye and started flitting from branch to branch toward me. He came fluttering over my head and I thought he was going to land on my shoulder, but then he thought better of it at the last moment. He flew back to the bush and then started coming toward me again! Again I thought he would land on my shoulder and again he flew off at the very last second. I was going to hold out my hand and see if he would land on it, but then another runner came up on me and I got shy and kept going.

Well, one incident could be my imagination. Maybe this particular bird makes a habit of coming to people in search of food or something. But last weekend I was again walking (far too icy to run!) in Fish Creek Park. I stopped and sat on an old log to just absorb nature's sights and sounds. The chickadees were singing their "spring" song and a woodpecker was banging away somewhere. I love these peaceful, quiet times. As I sat there, I noticed some little birds flitting down the path toward me. They fluttered from branch to branch, bobbing and weaving, and as they came closer I realized they were chickadees again. There were three of them and they all came right up and sat on the log beside me! I could have reached out my hand and touched them, but I didn't want to scare them off. I could see every little feather, every glint in their sweet little shiny black eyes.

The chickadees stayed next to me for a few seconds and then went on their merry way. I was thrilled, and felt comforted in a way, though I couldn't figure out why. Later I read a book on Native American views of nature and what the different animals can mean. It said that small birds like that were believed to contain the spirits of the Ancestors and that they often came with happy, comforting messages. That just made so much sense to me.

Appeals to the Native part of me.

Nature Girl, Part II
Mar 3, 2007

Again, I was walking in Fish Creek Park and again the little chickadees came and clustered around me. This time there were four of them. They looked at me with their bright little eyes and played and hunted for food right next to me. One of them left a lovely little mark in the snow with his wings. It looked like an eyelash. Then two small woodpeckers joined them and showed no fear of me as they hunted for food on the branches of the trees.

My rational mind was thinking it has to be because they are used to having people around them and are hoping for a handout. The Native spiritual side of me was thinking they were Nature showing an interest in me. I stood for a long time and just watched them, thrilled that I could do so.

Later on my run I saw a rather incongruent sight. An elderly lady was walking the snowy path, looking for all the world like she was shopping on Fifth Avenue. She had a too-dark, too-big-hair wig on, full makeup that included bright lipstick, a short fur jacket and gold jewelry. I could smell expensive perfume as she went by. We said hello to each other and she LOOKED rational, just highly out of place in the snow in Fish Creek Park...

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