Sunday, October 01, 2006


There are few birds that can rival the Cedar Waxwing. The sight of them perched on a berry-covered bush is enough to warm the heart of the most cynical pessimist. But, I get ahead of myself. Let me tell you the story of “my” Waxwings.

In 1978 my elderly mother spent the winter months with us in North Carolina. At age 84 she was still very active and her mind was exceptionally alert. No matter where she was she would find things of interest and she had a knack for turning the mundane into an adventure.

One of my mother’s disciplines was to take a short walk every day and she would usually be gone for about 30 minutes. A week into her visit she took her regular exercise but it was almost two hours before she returned home, her smile telling me that she had thoroughly enjoyed her latest escapade.

Mother had heard that we had a bedridden neighbor living just 4 houses down from ours and she took it upon herself to visit her. When there was no answer to her knock she tried the door and, finding it open, she stuck her head in, giving a friendly “Woo, woo, anyone here?” A woman answered and Mother ventured in and introduced herself ! (Can you imagine that in this day and age?) The two women became great friends and those visits were the highlight of her days while staying with us.

She would also bring home leaves and berries and anything else that caught her fancy and she would pour over our encyclopedias to identify them. One day she was doing just that in “her” little back bedroom when I heard a loud cry of astonishment. I went running to see if she was OK and the two of us watched in wonder as more than 20 Cedar Waxwings settled to feed on the berries of a small tree in our backyard.

The tree was just outside her window and we were not more than 10 feet from the birds. We watched in awe as these lovely creatures fed to their heart’s content. I mentioned that I could run and get my camera but Mother put her hand on my arm and said, “Don’t move. They’ll be gone before you get back. Just savor the moment.” … and she was right. All of a sudden they perked up, as if they’d heard a silent alarm, and within a minute they were gone.

That was 27 years ago and for a long time I watched to see if “my” Waxwings would return to that little tree. They never did and now my tree, my mother and my Cedar Waxwings are all gone. But, not my memory...that I will savor forever.


Blogger Anvilcloud said...

Nice picture, nice story.

7:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bittersweet. Sigh. Lovely.

5:51 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Clearly your mother left a lot of herself with you. Curiosity, compassion, passion for life. My mom kept the same pact with life: a walk every day.

I agree that cedar waxwings are breathtaking. You tell the story quite well.

11:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd never heard of this bird and they're certainly exquisite.
What a great story, Ginnie and just another reminder for all of us to grab those moments and hold on.

9:14 AM  
Blogger Maya's Granny said...

I'm so glad you directed me to this post. I love Cedar Waxwings and, just as yours remind you of your mother, mine remind me of Auntie. Sadly, they never fly this far north -- they migrate from the US Canadian border south. Lovely little creatures.

12:18 AM  

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