It’s April, finally the time of year that we go back to the island. In the winter, when the baseboard heater can’t keep up with the cold on the other side of our single-pane windows, and the concrete slab floor feels like ice, and we have to drain the water heater every time we leave, and a certain three-year-old’s hands are cold, and she has to use the potty after you’ve turned off the water, and she’s tired and hungry for a snack, and you still have a boat ride before the car drive, its best to just stay home. But this time of year, when I start to feel spring coming, I get anxious. I can smell the lake water and taste the fresh crab. Almost. Here.
We made it up to the island last weekend. It was the first time we’d been up in a while and one of the crazy things about little kids is that they change so much so fast that it seemed like I was taking Josie to the island for the first time again. It’s not that she doesn’t remember it. Oh, she does and she loves it, but she’s so grown up, so mature that she sees new things and appreciates another aspect of the island.
We were at the marina. Walking down the dock, I noticed a duck-like bird. It was nearly all black with white wedge around the eye. Josie was walking next to me holding my hand. We stopped and looked at it. We described it to each other.
When it flew away we noticed that it stayed close to the water and it had a white stripe on its wing near where it connected to its body. Then we walked on.
When we got to the house we picked up the bird book. She sat next to me on couch. We looked through pictures together until we found one that looked right, then I read the description of the bird and we agreed that it was indeed a bufflehead.
Did you hear what I said? We walked down the dock together. We stopped to describe a bird. She SAT on the couch next to me. We looked at pictures. She LISTENED to the description. These are all things that I would not have thought possible six months ago, or even last month.
It wasn’t just a mallard, it was a bufflehead and maybe next time, maybe sometime before the summer is over, we’ll see a pink-billed oystercatcher. Really, anything could happen.