This post is the third in a series exploring the them of flying (and in this one – birds) as I prepare for my upcoming art show entitled “Taking Flight”.
When I was a small girl, we didn’t go to church, except under duress. My beloved gramma Alice could put the pressure on. Every so often, our little family would get dressed up and join my grandparents and my great aunt and uncle at First Baptist Church in down town Ottawa. My mum regaled us with tales of rolling pennies along the slightly sloping floor when she was a child – Sundays were a silent day in her family home and her rambunctious spirit could hardly bear it!! She loved to create havoc whenever possible.
Instead of church, we often went birdwatching. We would pile into the corvair (believe it or not, our family had two corvairs), my parents in their Cowichan sweaters with binoculars around their necks, a picnic basket and plaid wool car blankets, and of course, a well-used Peterson Field Guide. We drove backroads,
roamed woodlots and pastures, craned our necks backwards to watch migrating flocks, listened for the songs of birds and spring peepers. I remember steaming tomato soup poured from a thermos and egg salad sandwiches. On the non-Sunday birdwatching ventures, Gramma and Grampa would also come along, dressed in Cowichan sweaters as well. My dad had immense respect for my grandfather’s knowledge about birds, as well as his listening and observation skills. We would drive along and suddenly Grampa would say “Wilson’s Snipe”. Dad would slowly stop the car and all binoculars were on the ditch. In the woods, Grampa would listen to the songs, and then find the birds. He and Gramma knew all about plants, and mushrooms, trees and insects. Everything interested them. Since my brother Peter and I were curious about the wonders of the natural world, these were fabulous outings for us.
Many years later, in Saskatchewan, Shane (eventually to become my husband) took me to a nearby slough to watch the birds. Our first date, although we didn’t recognize it as such! When he took me to meet his parents, Hugh was wearing a Cowichan sweater. Two sets of binoculars sat on nearby tables, and a bird guide (though not a Peterson’s)was not far off. Now, some of our children wear those same sweaters. They laugh at our birdwatching antics, but you just watch… some day, they will be out there with binocs in hand and their kids amused at them!