visit from a mourning dove

4.19.20 ~ mourning dove on my balcony

Mourning doves have been visiting me off and on since my mother died twenty-eight years ago. They seem to arrive when I could use a little encouragement. When I used to garden one would often sit near me and watch me as I worked. Once one walked with me all the way from my garden to the swimming pool in our complex. Lately one comes to sit on the balcony almost daily and coos for as long as an hour at a time. I find her company very comforting.

Sunday morning I decided to try to photograph her through the sliding glass doors and was thrilled with the results. She didn’t seem to mind posing. I know they are plain birds, but that’s exactly why I find them so beautiful! I love them the same way I love my gulls.

In this sad world of ours, sorrow comes to all; and, to the young, it comes with bitterest agony, because it takes them unawares. The older have learned to ever expect it.
~ Abraham Lincoln
(Letter to Fanny McCullough, December 23, 1862)

When I first read the Lincoln quote six years ago, after my father died, I remember thinking how true it was. When my mother died I was so young it came as a terrible blow and I needed therapy to work through the grief. By the time my father died it was no longer such a shocking experience. I deeply felt the pain of loss, but it wasn’t unexpected.

We now have 36 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in our town. There are moments I feel terribly anxious about this. It’s starting to sink in that it may be be many months or even more than a year before it will be safe to visit our grandchildren again. As it stands now, I don’t think I will feel free from danger before there is a vaccine. But we are trying to make the best of it and even find a sense of humor at times.

I find myself wondering how my parents would respond to the coronavirus pandemic. I imagine they would probably be just as blindsided as the rest of humanity. But since Mother Nature sees fit to send me such a sweet comforter as this lovely mourning dove I will stay grateful.

It’s not true that life is one damn thing after another — it’s one damn thing over and over.
~ Edna St. Vincent Millay
(Letter to Arthur Davison Ficke, October 24, 1930)

4.19.20 ~ this might be my favorite pose

The Millay quote has been one of my favorites for a long time. It amuses me and helps me to laugh at the ironic situations I think I find myself in. The coronavirus pandemic feels unprecedented, and perhaps it is in my lifetime, but not at all in the history of the world.

In the trilogy Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset, the protagonist, Kristin, dies from the Black Death at the end. It’s one thing to read about plague statistics in history books, quite another to experience what it must have been like while reading the words of an excellent storyteller. It comforts me to know others have felt the same fear.

Being a highly sensitive child, whenever I would lament about the sad things happening in the world my father would sigh and advise me, “‘Twas ever thus.” When my mother was dying of cancer and my heart ached for her suffering he would gently remind me that “every creature struggles for life.” He was a naturalist and scientist who taught us compassion for animals and people, but also prepared us for loss. Whenever one of our pets died he would tell us to “remember the good times.” I am so grateful for the lessons he taught me.

4.19.20 ~ showing off her feathers

‘Twas ever thus — from childhood’s hour I’ve seen my fondest hopes decay, I never loved a tree or flower but ’twas the first to fade away.
~ Charles Dickens
(The Old Curiosity Shop)

12 thoughts on “visit from a mourning dove”

  1. I absolutely love your dove and your photos of her! She’s beautiful. We don’t have mourning doves here, but we have collared doves which have a similarly gentle expression.

    You had a good dad, helping you cope. Mine, despite also being scientific-minded (he was a doctor) wasn’t very helpful at all in that respect and I learnt most of my lessons about how to cope from personal experience. I am self-taught in almost everything I know.

    I find myself comparing covid-19 to the plague, as well. However, from looking at the graphs in countries where it hit first and hardest, I don’t think it’s actually as bad as that, though of course that could change with a second or third wave if people don’t follow the very sensible rules well enough…. and we both know there are some complete idiots out there who are ignoring them. It would be good to know if having had it actually gives immunity and if it’s still onboard and spreadable or if it has died – then at least those who have recovered won’t be spread it and won’t catch it again, but so much is still unknown about this virus.

    What I find mind-boggling (astonishing) is how quickly it happened. I have a diary in which I write my thoughts and in one entry I’m talking about something fairly superficial and in the next, I’m talking about a ‘disaster in my lifetime’.. It’s all so, so damn sad and anxiety-provoking.

    Be as well as you can, Barbara. Hugs. x

    1. Thank you, Val! ♡ I looked up collared doves and I see what you mean. Apparently they’ve been introduced to North America and are spreading rapidly, although they haven’t made it to Connecticut yet. But I will keep an eye out for them.

      I listened to a podcast this morning about the 1918-1919 flu epidemic, which killed about 8,500 people in Connecticut. They seemed to have had very similar advice for slowing the spread for the public, except for one thing I noticed. They didn’t promote hand-washing. So far with COVID-19 we’ve had 1,764 deaths in Connecticut. Only time will tell how bad it will get.

      It is frustrating that there are so many questions yet to be answered about this virus. For now we are erring on the side of caution and sometimes feel “lucky” because we have an income and no need to be out and about in public. So far our governor is doing a good job managing the crisis but our president scares me to death with his astounding ignorance and narcissism.

      It did all happen rather suddenly, didn’t it? Last year climate change was my biggest worry. Then my health. Now this nightmare. Thankfully there is enough of the natural world left to give us some comfort and technology available to connect us with friends and family across the distances. Thank you for being my friend, Val. Stay safe and be well. *hugs*

  2. Your dove is so very beautiful. She’s not plain at all. I love the mourning doves, but rarely get such a good look at them. Ours are very shy. I’m glad she’s there to comfort you.

    We’ve been talking about being able to see our grandchildren, too, and wondering how long it will be before we can see them, hug them, and just be with them. It’s so hard, isn’t it? We had planned to go out to Ohio for a visit over spring break (the 2nd week of March, I think), but cancelled because they were all sick with a cough and fever, before anyone knew how far the virus had spread or where it had spread to. There is no way of knowing if it was the flu or covid-19. At any rate, our son told us not to come or we’d probably end up sick. We cancelled and now, sometimes, I regret it. Had we gone, we would have been stuck there. But we would have been with family. Ah well. Here we are and here we will stay for a while.

    The official count in our county is 14. I suspect it’s higher. This is a very poor county. Many people don’t have health insurance, making them unlikely to seek medical help (and thereby be counted). It’s also a very right-wing county in which people believe their rights are being infringed upon so they are not physically distancing or wearing masks as required. To each his own, I suppose, but it’s going to stretch this out longer. I wish people would realize that much. Our governor has done a good job, and he got on it early, shutting things down fast. His wife, who is South Korean, managed to get us some testing kits that we needed. If we’d had to depend on the president… well… things would likely be much worse (and still could be).

    1. Thank you, Robin! ♡

      It is hard wondering what the future will bring where our grandchildren are concerned. The video chatting is wonderful and I am grateful for it, but it’s not quite the same as a physical hug and snuggle! We had planned a trip to North Carolina this month… Sigh… Katherine and Finn were pretty sick with parainfluenza in February and it led to croup with Finn. Larisa had to take him to the emergency department but after they treated him they let her take him home. It was a scary couple of days. I can understand why you might regret not having gone to visit your family in March. So suddenly our lives have been thrown into confusion.

      It has been said that for every confirmed case of COVID-19, there could be up to 10 undetected cases in the community. Sobering thought. We’ve been having our groceries delivered because we are in the high-risk category so I haven’t been out and about to see how well people are complying with physical distancing and wearing face masks. We’re starting to get testing places in cities where people don’t own cars and can’t use a drive-through testing place. Thanks to mayors and the governor. With our president at the wheel I feel like a passenger in a car with a drunk, irrational driver.

      Stay safe, Robin, and be well. *hugs*

  3. That is such a good way to put it, Barbara. “Drunk, irrational driver” sums up his leadership (or lack thereof) quite well. We should probably not be out and about, but there is no choice here. There are no delivery services in our area. We don’t even have curbside pickup or “senior hours” at the grocery store. I really don’t like going out given the way people down here are not complying with physical distancing or wearing masks. M and I go together because we can split up and get it done faster that way, hopefully limiting our exposure.

    I miss the physical interaction with the kids, too. Hugs and snuggles and having them both try to sit on my lap when I read a book and a million other ways we interact. Zoom and Marco Polo (another video chat type thing) are better than nothing at all, but I miss the contact.

    Hugs to you too, Barbara. Be safe and be well.

    1. That’s a tough situation you are in there, Robin, similar to how things are where my sister-in-law lives. We had a two hour video chat yesterday and neither of us can figure out why some people simply won’t comply with social distancing or wearing masks. Or wearing masks that only cover their mouths but not their noses…. If only we had grown-ups in charge… I wish you success in limiting your exposure. Looking forward to the day when all this is behind us and our grandchildren are safely in our arms again. ♡

  4. Such a beautiful post, Barbara. I also love the doves that sit and coo around our yard and on our deck (and in our garden, even though it only has some hearty perennials trying to rise from the cold earth). Yes, doves are comforting, and this one you photograph seems like a sign from a Spirit, or Spirits. I like to think so. Your dad was a wise wonderful man. Thanks for his sayings, and the quotes you leave us with. They help. xo

    1. Thank you, Pam! ♡ I also think mourning dove visits are a spiritual gift and their presence is always uplifting to me. My grandparents loved them, too, welcoming them into their garden. When visiting we would often have breakfast on the back porch, listening to them coo and watching them feed on the ground while the other birds were at the feeders. So glad my dad’s quotes helped you, too.

      Stay safe, Pam, and be well. *hugs*

        1. Oh Pam, I’m so sorry to hear your mom is going through this. Both of you are in my thoughts and prayers and may the doves and your family continue to strengthen and comfort you… *hugs*

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