This June just continues to defy convention. For nearly the past 10 years, humidity and temperatures in the high 90s were a certainty by the middle of the month. If it rained, it would be a short, pop-up storm that would just put enough water on the ground to evaporate up into muggy steam. When this week began, it seemed we might be on our way to that sort of weather. It was humid and hot. But then we got rain storm after rain storm, and by mid-week the humidity was gone, leaving us with these bright, breezy, warm days that we feel like should have been done in April.
When I was on my way out after work early this week, I passed a window and saw a pigeon fluffing up its wings really big. We’re on the top floor of the Fine Arts Building, and the architecture has some strange walls that jut out then come back in, creating these little alcoves 8 stories in the air, that I imagine are nice shelter for a pigeon from the wind and sun and so forth. I was intrigued by this bird and moved closer, and got startled by another pigeon that bolted out right from under the window where I was standing. I got closer, looking down, and realized that pigeon had been sitting on a nest. It looked like a small Christmas wreath made out of twigs with a zip tie and cigarette butt for decoration. There were two little white eggs in the center, resting on the concrete.
I went back to the office to tell my co-workers what I had found and felt kind of like a 12 year-old running into the house to tell mom and dad about finding a frog or something. They did not share my enthusiasm, though Chad did say, “good find.” I get it; we mostly see pigeons as rats with wings. But, there’s something about watching a mother do those things that come most naturally that makes it hard to resist just watching to see what it will do next, wondering how does it know.
Allyson has a co-worker in the program she’s working this month whose girlfriend wanted to come visit, because she was about to go back to Virginia where they live, and it would be the only time they’d see each other all month. We offered our guest room, so she’d have a place to stay overnight and they could actually have some time together. As he was talking to her, she mentioned going to camp at Lakeshore, and then this whole avalanche of connections started pouring out. We realized that we knew a lot of the same people, and that she had been a camper for many years, and I was one of the few people she still remembered. How strange that in a lifetime we will cross paths with people like this—thinking we’re meeting someone for the first time and realizing our history goes much farther back.
I get together with my friend Kyser every now and then to catch up, and we decided to take a risk and try the Indian food at Baldy’s Grill. Murray, Kentucky is not a large town, and the university definitely draws in a more eclectic crowd than your average small town, but Indian food is, at best, something one might hope for when the University’s world and culture club put on an event to sample food from exotic countries. Then put on top of that that you are going to eat Indian food at a place named “Baldy’s,” and there’s more than enough cause for apprehension. When we got our menu, we could not find any Indian food, and when we asked, the waitress went to the back to search for it. She came back, gave us a red sheet of paper, and said she had found, “the only one.” Not a good sign. We decided to split the tiki masala with chicken and an order of naan with garlic. Our order came out, and it looked like it was supposed to. We took a whiff and smelled the ginger, and it turned out to taste something like Indian food. I think some of the ingredients may have been more accessible American substitutes, but it’s good enough that I’ll probably return if I’m craving Indian food.
On several occasions this week, I’ve had meals on our front porch. While making second breakfast one day, I was debating on whether to watch a DVD or listen to a podcast when it hit me: “It feels great outside. You should go sit on your porch.” What a great feeling, being outside in the middle of June with a nice breeze, eating at a nice leisurely pace, enjoying each bite, watching the world. I’ve had calls from old friends, unexpected visits, and a surprising amount of time to slow down and take in all that’s going on around me.
Each day this week, I’ve taken time to go back to the pigeon nest to see how the nesting mother is doing. When I see her at the beginning of my shift at 5AM is it still mostly dark, and she is a ball of fluff and feather, head tucked under her chest. When I visit at the end of my shift at 9, she is cautious, turning her head to the side so one of her eyes can watch me. She has bright purple and green on her neck and looks like she would be soft to touch. I wonder over the coming months what her story will be, how it will intersect with my own. Will I meet her two children, will she become more comfortable with me? How deeply will I know this place, how much will it know me? The questions will continue, and the answers will continue to be incomplete. It is nice to be able to ask them in this time of ease, this break from the heat and humidity, this time that begs me to go out and enjoy this life. I hope I answer it well.