From Illinois: Mamma Dove


          "Now, there’s something you have to know about the porch," my mother told me as we waited in the Indianapolis Airport for my luggage to arrive.  

           As always, last Saturday morning my great parents came to pick me up after my 37-hour trip from China. We had yet another 1 ½ hour drive before reaching my hometown, Marshall, but there was a luggage delay so we sat next to the carousel to await its arrival.

          "So what’s the news about the porch?" I asked.

          My parents live in a large 2-story house built in 1917 with an impressive front porch that hugs two sides of the house. Most old houses have lost their front wooden porches to owners who either fill in with concrete, replace pillars with plastic or metal ones, or just tear off the entire thing completely. But my parents are of the generation that grew up with lazy summer afternoons spent swinging on swings or settled into wicker chairs, watching the world go by while perched in the shade of their house porches.

         Since the Wieck house lies directly on Rt. 1, years ago this would have been the place to survey those coming into town in their horse-drawn carriages. Now, it’s a bit noisy with semis plowing through at top speeds, motorcycles revving up their engines while flying by and the locals in pick-up trucks checking out the town scenery.

         I expected my mom’s porch report to be something along the lines that they’d broken down and replaced the wooden floor and pillars with more permanent concrete, saving them thousands of dollars every two or three years to replace the rotted-out wood.  Instead, her news was of a different sort.

       "Well, I’ll tell you," she began the story.

       It seems that for a week, my mother had been watering the porch’s hanging flower baskets unaware that in one of these, a mother dove had settled into a cozy nest and nestled atop two eggs. It was easy to miss her since my mom never lowers the pots to water them. The bird was hunkered down so low, not moving at all, that my mom had no idea she was there until suddenly, a little dove head popped up over the rim while she was walking by. Not only had my mother watered the poor thing, but she’d pulled out a chunk of her nest at one point, not knowing what all those dangly, twiggy things were that spilled over the side of the pot.

        After discovering our Mamma Dove, she has been more careful when tromping across the porch and steers clear of the one pot, even though the dove seems determined not to move from her spot. Last week, two carpenters came to pull up rotted boards from the porch floor and replace them with new. They sawed, hammered, amd banged about, making quite a din for several days right under Mamma Dove. Through it all, she perched resolutely on her eggs, not budging.

       The next intrusion will be that of Bob Ferris. Mr. Ferris is in his 80’s and is a rather particular elderly gent who’s to paint the entire porch, including the railings and the columns. This old-time professional takes great pride in scraping down everything by hand and making sure all the flowery extras ( (outside house hangings, flowers, porch swings and chairs) are gone. He greatly disapproves of flower pots and garden knick-nacks. Last time he came, he painted the garage and pulled out all the nails my mom used to hang up her home beautifying touches.

        "This shouldn’t be here," he grumbled. Then he jerked out all the nailed-in hangers and filled the holes in with putty.

          The outside of the garage has remained somewhat bare ever since.

           One of the family concerns is that Mr. Ferris may very well not be so considerate of Mamma Dove’s nesting choice and want to remove her wilting flower pot from its hanging place. Our job will be to make sure he doesn’t.

         At present, Mamma Dove is quite calm when it comes to people. We can walk near enough to peer up at her or stand on a chair to catch a better glimpse of her pretty puffed-up figure. She stays put, never flying away or even fidgeting. She must feel very safe and welcomed in our protective presence. We, on the other hand, feel quite honored that she has chosen the Wieck house for her young ones to be born.  Always nice to have new life around, especially after so many devastating floods have hit this area.

          Be sure to stay tuned for more updates on Mamma Dove, as well as news from China.

          From Marshall, here’s sending you "Ping An" for your day.

About connieinchina

I have been in the Asia region for 30 years as an English language teacher. 28 of those have been spent with the Amity Foundation, a Chinese NGO that works in all areas of development for the Chinese people. Amity teachers are placed at small colleges throughout China as instructors of English language majors in the education field. In other words, my students will one day be English teachers themselves in their small villages or towns once they graduate. Currently, this is my 13th year in Luzhou Vocational and Technical College. The college is located in Luzhou city (loo-joe), Sichuan Province, a metropolis of 5 million people located next to the Yangtze River .
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