Feathers and Clover

“What’s by the gate?” I stared up at the cute boy, the sun creating a halo around his head.

He paused before answering. “Feathers.”

“Feathers?” I responded, but stopped my voice just before it raised into a question. I didn’t want to know any more.

I’m sitting in the same spot, but there is no cute boy standing in front of the sun now. I slowly get up and walk over to the gate. Feathers. So many feathers. The scattered down feathers are white. “What kind of bird is white?” I wonder. The tail feathers are white and light grey. Oh… a dove. I begin to count them. Maybe if there are only two or three she got away.

Eight…nine…ten… I stop counting. I realize the fate of this dove. And I am so sad, I can feel the blood slowing in my veins.

I look at the fence and the roofline and the bush by the house. Had I created a place where she felt safe? Had I encouraged her to stay here, where the neighborhood cat or hawk was waiting.

And then I remembered something I had heard once. Doves mate for life. I stood in the same place and mourned that tiny broken heart until I felt a soft nose bump against my leg. I had absorbed enough sadness. Coco was telling me it was time to go.

We went inside, and I crossed the house to the front door. Time to check the mail.

Before I open the door, let me tell you that today was an emotional day. My roller coaster ride of hormones, holidays and homesickness has taken some turns through illness and fatigue and has pulled into the station of Empty Nest.

I have spent a lot of time today reflecting on the last two years. A beautiful distraction. I was not, and am not, prepared to deal with real life yet. But it seems that’s not up to me.

And so, I planned a party and called on some people who I know will cheer me up. But that is tomorrow, and as for today, I am still struggling to find my bootstraps.

Now I open the front door and walk down the sidewalk. The sun is setting at the end of the street. The color refuses to be ignored. Fine, okay, the sky is beautiful. I take a deep breath, gather the mail, and head back up the sidewalk.

The moment before I step onto the porch, something catches my eye. I look down and to the left. Then to the right. There at my feet are two very large, very green, very HEALTHY clumps of clover!

This is the clover that Mr. Ponder planted. That came back to greet me every year. That was accidentally pulled up, poisoned, pulled up and poisoned again. It tried to come back. I talked to it daily. Coaxing it back. Making promises I wasn’t sure I could keep. And then it disappeared completely.

I was too sad to write about it. I searched at nurseries, but was told the earliest I could find replacements would be next March. I drove off. Sad. And not sure that I wanted replacements.

After the recent freezing weather, I watched as my trumpet vines died their seasonal death, and my roses became crispy. I stopped looking at the barren patches of dirt and leaves in front of the house.

So now, on the other side of the gate, with the sky on fire and the Texas-autumn air hovering around 70°, I am staring at my beautiful clover. I lean over and run my hand across the top.

“Hello there!”

And I let happy tears flow.

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