• Doves
    by Bonnie Steiger © 2010

    An excerpt from the children's book

    I didn't want to move. I didn't want to frighten it away. I stood very still so the bird would think I was a floor lamp or a potted plant or wouldn't see me at all. It was so wonderful watching a bird pecking around in my box, the very box I didn't clutter up with flowers. Lots of room to explore and study the dirt, maybe find a morsel to chew on (or whatever a bird would do with a morsel if, indeed, it found one).

    "Maaaaaaaam!" I called to my mother in the next room, trying not to move my mouth too much.
    "What is it, dear?"
    "You tell me, but come in very slowly and quietly."

    I must have said something that upset her. She came in holding a broom over her head with the most bravely frightened expression I'd ever seen her wear. She looked around the room, then over to me. I must have looked very odd, standing still as a floor lamp. She lifted her shoulders as if to ask, "What?" I answered with my eyebrows, "Over there," aiming them towards the window. She slowly turned and saw the bird still nonchalantly browsing in the dirt.

    "Oh, isn't that just darling," she said as she slowly lowered the broom and relaxed her expression to one of relief.

    "What is it, Mom?," I asked, still not moving.
    "It's a bird, of course."
    "Yes, of course, but what kind of bird?"
    "It's not a pigeon; it's too small and, well, pretty." She also became very still so as not to frighten the pretty bird away. "It's not a dove. The doves I've seen -- in movies and on television -- are all white." Her gaze got softer and softer, her voice more gentle. "I really don't know what kind of bird it is."

    We both moved in slow motion across the living room to the kitchen so we could talk. What should we do, what should we do? We were twittering like birds ourselves, relieved that we could finally talk and move around in excitement about our visitor. I was surprised that she was as excited as I was about the bird. We pressed our heads together, forehead to forehead; she had to lean over quite a bit. We giggled, we shushed ourselves. We decided to put a little piece of bread in the window box. It may not be the perfectly right food for the bird. Certainly, this bird doesn't have a baker in the wild supplying it with bread. But bread seemed pretty harmless and would keep the bird interested. So we discussed the pros and cons. What if the worst happens? Maybe the bird will fly away and never come back? What if the best happens? Maybe the bird will stay and eat the bread. We took a big chance. I watched from the kitchen as Mom, again in slow motion, moved back into the living room, and bent down below the window sill. She reached up and opened the window just a little bit, and put a small piece of bread in the window box. It worked! The bird didn't leave. It looked at the bread and cautiously moved toward it and then started pecking at it.

    Okay, our first move was a success. The bird knew there was a reason to stay. Now we could find out more about our visitor.

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