When I was three years old, I learned to read from a bird book.
Not Big Bird (who was not even dreamt of when I was learning to read), but an actual textbook describing birds of the southern West Coast of British Columbia. I don't remember the book, but I do remember who taught me to read -- my Grampa, who lived in our basement until I was four.
Grampa was an amateur ornithologist, and I still have some letters from the B.C. Provincial Museum, thanking him for photos of various unusual birds he'd spotted. Apparently this was one of his talents; and while I can't claim nearly the breadth or depth of knowledge he had, I definitely like birds, and pay attention to them when I'm outdoors.
This morning, for instance -- I was down by the river with the dog, and it seemed like every second tree had its own personal woodpecker, hammering away looking for the earliest spring bugs. (Question: Are woodpeckers migratory? I think they must be, but I should go research that.)
The cardinals have been around a while now, but I still love the male's call -- birdee, birdee, birdee! -- as he tries to convince any nearby females that he'd be an excellent mate.
And last night, when I was walking the dog with Rachel, we heard a distant tell-tale honking overhead, the one sure sign that spring is back. We looked up, and sure enough, vee-shaped ribbons of Canada geese were streaming across the sky. Hundreds of them, honking and flapping and encouraging one another along.
I love Canada geese. I always feel mournful watching them depart in the fall, and seeing them return every spring makes me almost giddy with delight. If I happen to see them when I'm alone (i.e., when no one is around to hear the crazy lady yelling up at the sky), I talk to them: "Hi, guys! You're back! Welcome home!"
So last night as Rachel and I stood in the middle of our street, gawking up at the geese as they urged one another northward, I wasn't at all surprised to hear my daughter exclaim, "Guys! You're back! You came back for us!" in exactly the same tone of voice I would have used, and with exactly the same spark of gleeful excitement in her eye. She squeezed my hand, and I squeezed hers back.
That's my girl.