I walked to the nearby pond this morning before the heat of the day really got going. I sat on my favorite bench and looked out on the water to see if any interesting birds would fly by. A blue heron did, but I did not have time to catch it with my camera. I began to circle the pond, and a Catbird came by, her call easily recognizable. The last few times I have walked around the pond a Catbird has called out and flown along with me as I walked. The first time it happened I assumed I was near a nest and she was trying to lead me away. It happened again a few days later, but this time in a different area of the pond. Today she appeared again, coming very close and once again sitting in a branch in a tree above me, but now in a different area from the first two times. She sang her meow and I answered her back. We sang back and forth a few more times and I continued to walk, but she flew to another branch and followed me down the path a bit until she flew across the pond.
My love of birds comes from my father, an avid bird watcher. As a young child I went on hikes with him and his bird watching group. He taught me how to identify different birds, and I can remember his ability to hear a call and identify the type of bird that was making it, both singing back and forth to each other. He would then hold up his binoculars to get a closer look. I was suddenly struck by this reminder, thinking of my father and now tying this together with this Catbird that has been coming around. I believe that the people who are no longer with us are still alive within us, within our memory, present in the things that remind us of them. I can’t say that I believe in reincarnation, but I do believe that there is a spiritual presence that may show itself to us in different forms. Sound crazy? Maybe, but I find it comforting to think that maybe this Catbird was somehow connected to my father, now gone for 10 years next month. Connected as a reminder, connected as a messenger, whatever, it made me smile. I smiled to think of him, to silently thank him for giving me this gift of love of nature, for feeling close to him once again in that moment. I called out a meow to the Catbird and continued on the trail.