For the Birds

A little 2020 story of hope.

My grandpa passed earlier this year in February. We were close, so, before COVID this hit me hard. Some of my best memories are of our quiet walks in the timber, as he called it, where I learned the names and traits of every plant and creature that he showed me. Still, in the mornings when I hear a birdsong, before I open my eyes, I can see its composer in my mind, and I think of this (and other things like it) as gifts from him to me.

This past fall, I moved to North Carolina to live out the pandemic and beyond among the mountains, ocean, and trees. I have spent the past couple months hunting for a place of my own, but try as I might, nothing felt like home until recently.

It’s heavily wooded here, which I love, but I’m always getting turned around, and on one such turn-around, I came across a pretty place surrounded by tall pines. I got a feeling like this was the place to be. It was dark at the time though, I didn’t learn the neighborhood, and could not find my way back from memory.

Now, I will spare you the bizarre and boring details of how I found myself displaced the day before Christmas Eve, but I scrambled, scoured listings, and booked a dingy room in an old motel nearby.

Later that evening, a young woman looking to rent out her condo, offered to show me the place that night. I was tired, but I dragged myself out of my dark and musty sanctuary, and headed to Audubon Lake Drive, not too far away.

This was the neighborhood I happened upon weeks ago, I realized, pulling into the driveway. Peaceful; the third-story apartment like a nest tucked into the trees. Everything about it felt right, so I applied for it immediately. In the morning, with my background and credit checks cleared early, I signed the lease, got the keys, and moved everything in on Christmas Eve.

“It’s a Christmas miracle!” I joked, “And you know I love the address…” I light-heartedly assured my worried friends and family checking in on my Holiday SNAFU. Though as I thought about all the things that had to go right for me to have this roof over my head—not a quick fix, but the perfect place for me—after things had gone so wrong, I began to feel, then deeply, that someone was looking out for me.

Today as I was unpacking the last of my boxes, I set my books on the shelf, and carefully opened two of my favorite and most treasured bindings. “From: Grandpa To: Jeanie” A Field Guide to the Birds and The Audubon Society…Thank you, Grandpa. You mean so much to me and live on in more than memories.

Happy New Year, my friends! I am with you. We can do hard things.

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