Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Knowing What to Look For

I grew up hearing that April showers brought May flowers and I found out later that they were wrong. In Texas we get our rain in May, not April. The first several years Beaven worked at Channel 8 he spent the first week in May setting up cameras to televise the Byron Nelson Golf Tournament that was held on Mother’s Day. The Mothers Day part always made me steamed. I think my first seven Mothers Days were spent without my Babies’ Daddy.

But I also never forgot the weather we had those years. Buckets and buckets of rain-- big buckets, too. Every year like clockwork the TV equipment truck would get stuck in the mud. Deeply stuck; "up-to-the-axle-stuck" in the mud. And they would spend half of the day getting it out of the mud and positioned where it needed to be. My job in those days, besides listening to the annual “truck stuck in the mud” story was to make sure Beaven had a decent raincoat because they didn't stop work for the rain. There were miles and miles of cables to run and they couldn't stop just because it was raining. We were so broke early in the marriage that the expense for a good raincoat was notable but we bought the best, heaviest raincoat they sold. I always called it his Noah raincoat.

Ever since, we've know to expect at least a week's worth of downpours the week before Mothers Day. And this year we got it Saturday night right on schedule. On the scale of rain this one surpassed the wimpy “dogs and cats” or “gully washer” category and fit into the more robust “frog strangler” level of rain. We had lightning all night long. Lightning so frequent and so bright that even in the middle of the night we were able to use it to watch our creek overflow and wash out one of the foot bridges while the water sheeted out and turned our yard into a pond of its own before flowing into the “real” pond that eventually empties back into the creek.

About a hundred yards after the water flows back into the creek as it exits the pond, there is a tangle of vines and trees just before the creek drops dramatically, creating a small waterfall. This spot is the graveyard of the three previous bridges. You would think I would learn to tie these suckers down but, actually, I did tie down the last bridge and the water just pulled the metal rod out of the ground along with wire that attached it to the bridge. The water took the whole thing in one piece. My craftsmanship may be excellent though the whole project was ultimately a failure.

Monday morning brought several detours into town because of bridges that were washed out so I’m not alone.

However, we had a great weekend before the Saturday night rain. Ann and Charlie Tubbs, old and dear friends, came for a good visit. When Charlie retired and went in search of his inner hippie in the hill country near Austin, he and Ann took up bird-watching. (In fact, they both managed to find their outer hippie as well while they were at it. And I’ve never seen either of them more engaged or happier.)

So here at our place they spent a lot of time checking out our birds and announced to me that I have a Painted Bunting. This seemed like a really big deal to them. And sure enough, with their encouragement I saw the bird for myself. As it turns out, the Painted Bunting has a gorgeous blue head with a bright red chest and a yellow and green back. By borrowing Ann’s binoculars, I saw what a beautiful bird it is. Now I am quite proud of it. I found out we have a Great Blue Heron who visits our pond in the mornings looking for fish. And a Tufted Titmouse.

This changes things. Until last weekend I knew we had birds. I could hear them in the woods and calling out to each other at night. They came to the birdfeeder and enjoyed my hospitality but, to me, they were all just generic “birds.” Some were red and I called them Cardinals. The others were brown or gray and I didn’t have names for them. The one by the pond was just “big.”

Things have changed. But, what changed and how? Certainly the birds didn’t change. I asked Charlie to put little nametags on each one but I don’t think he did it. I haven’t seen the nametags, at any rate. But what did change is this: I learned to have confidence that the unique ones were there if I but took the time to look. And I learned to look closer. Just knowing the Painted Bunting is indeed there and knowing what it looks like I’ve been able to spot it several times since Ann and Charlie left. Knowing the ways a Tufted Titmouse differs from the Cardinal helps me to watch for those qualities.

Of course, this is an allegory to life. I thank God daily that I have reached a point where I can slow down. Through the assurances of friends and prophets that God is good, I have learned to “Lift up my eyes unto the hills,” whenever I wonder “From whence cometh my help?” And then more thoroughly understand that “My help cometh from the Lord who made heaven and earth.” (Psalm 121-sometimes the faithful KJV is the only way to go.)

Sometimes when you get a clue ahead of time to what the answer will be, the question takes on a new and deeper meaning. And the answers turn out to be right in front of you.

PS-I found my “Ideas to Ponder” folder but haven’t taken the time to go through it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Even with the footbridge collapse, it's a lovely meditation! And what wonderful guides to lead you to a new understanding! Thanks for sharing your time with them. One minute during passing the peace isn't enough!
nancy