A long time ago, when I lived in the city in a walk-up apartment above a store and next to a bar; I had a small plot in a community garden. Working the earth was part of my childhood and I hoed, planted and weeded with abandon. It brought me peace and contentment to be in touch with my roots. I always drove to the garden at first light before the sun dried the dew from the leaves and sucked the moisture from the soil. Mostly I had the garden to myself. One day I arrived to find I had company. A Killdeer ambled around the scraggily grass to one side of the path. As I approached, it flew a short distance ahead of me then started to flop, piteously dragging one wing. I froze, scanning the stones nearby for the nest that was surely within trodding distance. Finding the speckled eggs was a study in patterns. When I finally found the stones that were not stones, I scavenged a rusted and misshapen tomato cage from the weedy pile of rotting leaves and abandoned gardening supplies. I up-ended the cage over the nest and tied strips from an old t-shirt that I found moldering behind the compost. The other gardeners were equally protective of our new family and we watched and waited for the eggs to hatch; walking in a wide berth around the make-shift fence with its fluttering black flags. Three little puff balls with legs were soon running around the gravel lot. We were all as proud as if we had actually hatched them ourselves. It was a long time ago, yet in my mind’s eye, I can still see that papa bird in a flail trying to lead me away and the joyous gleam in ancient eyes as they finally took wing.
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