Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Dad and the River


Good friends took care of us in their beautiful home while we made our rounds in Maryland to see family and friends.


Their hospitality is always sweet and their new home is grand. Spectacular. My favorite treat was their view of the Magothy River. And the birds…I choked on breakfast when a Great Blue Heron flew by the kitchen table with his eye on our eggs and sausage.


We didn’t spend a lot of time with Dad during our visits because there isn’t a lot to say to a sleepy man who has been living in a nursing home for three years. Correction: I have a lot to say but his words and thoughts, in return, don’t come easily or don’t come at all and honestly, I do believe I bore and confuse him most of the time.

In his face, I can see his wanting to say something…anything at all, but preferably something meaningful. So, I think, instead of blurting out lots of gibberish when he tells a story, he chooses to be quiet. He somehow knows enough to make that decision.

When quizzed on names, he smiled and called me Dorothy and my husband Michael, Henry. So we gladly impersonated a happy Dorothy and Henry. It’s okay.

Dad is blessed. Not for being where he is right now. That’s no blessing, for sure. He is blessed to still feel humor and gratitude for the slightest favor, his care, his food. He’s most enthusiastic for the York Peppermint Patty I pulled out of my handbag and offered to him a few days ago. It doesn’t take much to make him laugh out loud and for that, I’m happy.

His eyes sparkled before I left him in his bed, and as he raised his palsied arm to wave good-bye once again as I rounded the corner of his doorway, I wished I could return the next day and the day after that…even if he might be sad to see Dorothy leave and not me. It’s alright.

There was plenty to do and smile about. Maryland Steamed Crabs and beer! A life bird.


I just had to make time to meet the bird that I first thought was a little heron in the distance. A duck? I don’t see birds on rivers often. Heck, I rarely see rivers. Hmmm.


Without binoculars, field guide or internet, I was anxious to know who this was and, of course, to get closer.


Young Double-crested Cormorant seemed to know its creek well,

enjoyed the occasional sunshine with wings wide open at times,


and was confident enough to play hide and seek with me around the boat. I won.


One false move, and I’m gone, lady.
Belted Kingfisher allowed me two seconds for one shot as I felt myself ready to trip off the pier.


The clouds rolled in on a 60 degree day and winds blew my hair straight upwards. The mist didn’t stop me from snapping away at a few Ring-billed gulls. I do believe I took more than fifty frames of one bird. This one was not like the others.



ID, please?


We always miss Chloe & Bella when we’re away. Wishbone, who is the same age as Chloe, helped fill the voids.


Her neighbor appeared to greet us. Can you imagine the Beagle song?

We brought Bella a plush toy and brought Chloe her very first sweater. Of course she fought it because that’s what she does.
We all ooooo'ed and ahhhhh'ed over her in the pretty sweater.


So what’s the big deal? I hate it.
Woman, take the sales tag off, will ya?


Susan Ellis said...

Lovely post Mary...so thoughtful. I think aging parents is one the hardest things we have to contend with too.

NCmountainwoman said...

Oh, Mary. I just love your thoughtfulness when visiting your father, your appreciation for the things he still can enjoy, your enthusiasm when you go after the birds, and the way you always make me laugh at the end. I loved this post. Glad you are home safe and sound.

Anonymous said...

Hi Mary, It looks like your mystery gull is a Franklin's Gull. I'm glad that you can find good times with your dad.

Lynne at Hasty Brook said...

My heart aches as you describe your time with your Dad.

Bill said...

Great shots. Good to reconnect, MAry!

Rose said...

I know it must be so hard to visit your Dad and just as hard to leave. But I'm glad he can laugh and find enjoyment in something as small as a York's.

I know you're excited about the Cormorant, but that Ring-billed gull is the cutest thing I've ever seen. Well, next to Chloe in her sweater, of course:)

KGMom said...

Oh Mary--the sadness of watching parents age, especially when the essence of what they were fades. Don't be discouraged, though--I am sure your visit touches a place deep within your dad's memory.

Your friends' place--gasp! My goodness--I clearly don't have the right friends. ;-)

And Wishbone--looks a tad rotund. That look. Priceless.

LauraHinNJ said...

I don't know why Mary, but I'm giggling at you.

Vancouver realtor said...

Hi Mary. Besides interesting reading there are wonderful photos of the birds. I like especially that one with detail zoom. It is good to see our family as often as is possible. And the more often we visit them the easier it is to leave them because we know there will be soon next opportunity to see them. Best wishes to you and your family.


nina at Nature Remains. said...

I remember spending an afternoon in the yard with my mother, 3 years ago.
After what I was sure would be a memorable time for her with me, her only child, she said,"you're nice, what's your name?"
The time we give, regardless of who they know us to be, or not be, is our gift to them.
And, when minds fail, memories fill in the empty space.

Jayne said...

What a gorgeous place to find friends and comfort.... and birds! I can't even begin to imagine how hard it must be to leave, but I will someday as well. Love and hugs to you friend.

beckie said...

Mary, such wonderful photos of exciting vistas! And that ring billed gull is a hoot. He looks so comical-almost cross eyed, but a great picture none the less. :)Chloe is always a treat to see-even if she does look a little miffed in her new sweater. I am sure she will appreciate it more as they weather cools.

Visits to your Dad are more for you now aren't they? You need to assure yourself that he is being taken care of and all is as well as can be. And that's okay. It is also okay to feel sad and frustrated by the situation. But you have lovely memories of better times. Hold onto those.

A New England Life said...

I'm glad you had a nice time going back to Maryland, visiting with friends and your dad. It's too bad he can't be more responsive to you, as it sounds like he would want to be. Time sure does change everything.

What a place your friends have! I know you enjoyed the view as well as the wildlife. Good weather too!

It's always good to get back home to your babies : )

jason said...

Marvelous photos, Mary! I'm so jealous of that house. And boat. And view. Okay, the whole package.

Your gull is a nonbreeding laughing gull. Note the bit of red on the end of the beak. And the size and shape of the beak, not to mention the nice limited gray pattern across the head.

I love the cormorant and kingfisher shots! But I can hear the beagle photo... That howling face.

Julie Zickefoose said...

Chimp sez Jason's got the gull ID! Eee Eee! Eee!

This post touches me. It is a most peculiar feeling when we're not sure whether we've registered with our own dad. Been there. Hang in there. Chloe looks beautiful! Chet says to stay cool and just wear it. He says "she looks beautiful, please tell her that, Mether."

Heidi said...

Well, I'm happy someone had the ID because my western guide book probably wouldn't help.

Your post on your father is very touching, and I can imagine how you felt. It was much like with my grandmother at the end. I'm glad your father is still finding joy in his life :)

Francis Bell said...

WOW-Love your site!!!! I really enjoyed the pictures-thank you for brightening my day-Francis http://www.geothermalquestions.net

JeanMac said...

Sending love.

dugfresh said...

that was a touching post, mary. life really is about enjoying the little things, the things that are usually right in front of us — and have been all our lives; about not taking them for granted, but instead, relishing in their simple and unique beauty, whatever that may be.

on a side note, the birds over there in maryland seem a bit laid back, easy going, chilled out. if i had seen the cormorant, though, it would have been as it was flying away, having sensed me and my camera coming a mile away...

Anonymous said...

I know I say it every time, but this is a lump-in-the-throat, incredibly rich, really, really special post. Only you could share the melancholy of visiting a parent who is more a child now, then have us laughing with those full-face shots of the birds. (Yes, that one picture looks like a bird trying to give you THE bird!)

You have a very special talent, Mary.


Appalachian Lady said...

Your dad sounds like my mom was a number of years before she passed away last year. Treasure your time with him.

Nature is such a great way to connect with your feelings. I loved your post and of course, the dogs at the end made me smile.

Q said...

Finding and giving joy is what you do where ever you go.
You found lots to be grateful for too.
I am happy you were able see see your Dad again.

dguzman said...

I'd say Laughing Gull, given that you're in Maryland. You can tell he's one of the hooded gulls by the black splotch behind his eye--that's all that's left of his black hood feathers in the wintertime. (Thank you, BoTB's Identify Yourself!) Oh man, now I see that Jason and the Chimp her-own-self have confirmed my guess!

And that close-up pic of the DCCormorant is awesome! I always cringed in California when I saw them, as I was busy trying to turn them into Brandt's or Pelagics. But your close-up pic is nice!

Unknown said...

The Mudderland!

RuthieJ said...

So glad you enjoyed another trip to MD, Mare, even though it was bittersweet.
As always, your photos and words are lovely.