For the Birds

A little 2020 story (of hope).

As you may know, I lost my grandpa earlier this year in February. Before the pandemic, this, hit me hard. We were close. 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 everything he showed me.

Still, in the mornings, before I open my eyes, when I hear a birdsong, I can picture its composer in my mind, and I think of this (and other things like it) as his gift to me.

I moved to North Carolina this fall, 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.

The area is heavily wooded, which I love, but I’m always getting turned around, and on one such miss-turn, I came upon a pretty place surrounded by tall pines and got a feeling, like this was the place to be. It was dark then though, so 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 (then had a good cry and reach out to my friend Amy).

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

This was the neighborhood I happened upon weeks ago, I realized, pulling into the drive way; so 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 in on Christmas Eve.

“It’s a Christmas Miracle!” I light-heartedly assured, “And you know I love the address…” I joked to worried friends and family checking in on my Holiday SNAFU. But 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.

Unpacking the last of my boxes this morning, I set my books on my shelf, and carefully opened one of my favorites and most treasured bindings.—From Grandpa, to me: A Field Guide to the Birds and The Audubon Society.—Thank you, Grandpa. You are loved and missed every day, though you live on in more than just memories.

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

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