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Dove Tale

Sometimes nature will show us a sign, if we let it.

As days passed I grew fond of her. I'd spend long minutes looking at her. She was lovely. Her beak looked like a sliver of slate and thin, pale-blue circles rimmed her blinking eyes. I wondered what she thought of me, if she did at all.

This isn't the first time I've had a dove come to nest near me. Some years ago another had made her home on a high ledge corner outside my living-room window. Back then someone had told me it was a good sign, a sign of peace and providence to come, to have a dove dwell nearby. Shortly after this assurance, though, a thunderstorm blew the bird away.

I didn't worry about wind or rain chasing off this new dove in the midst of what seems to be an interminable drought.

But it has been a curious summer in many ways. The air seems to have had a patient stillness. It is as if nature's been holding something big back and is waiting for the right time and place to let it go.

Strange things have happened this season to make me, maybe everyone, question coincidence a little more. There have been tragedies, big and small, and triumphs to try to balance them. The time in between has been spent in anticipation.

Meantime, the dove had her babies.

I heard them being hatched last week in the middle of the night. Their shrill cries punctuated my sleep and at once I knew what was happening. But I didn't get up.

When I looked at them the next morning the mother dove was huddled over two baby doves. They were much bigger than I had expected, each the size and shape of a pear. For a while another dove joined them. That must be the father, I thought.

I was excited to tell my friends. I felt inspired. I thought: Maybe I'll write something funny or poignant about luck changing for the better, about hope and happenstance and the endurance of love. How nature shows us this.

That day it started to rain for the first time in weeks.

When I came home from work the mother dove had disappeared. One baby had died. The other looked close to doing the same. I wondered if there was anything I could do to save it, but I was afraid to open the window to find out. I left it alone and tried not to think about it.

Hours later I went back to see if it was still alive. There was the mother dove, staring back at me. She had come back. She had her wings cupped over just one baby now. The two stayed like this, snuggled inseparably, for a few days. Then the mother dove started spending time away. She would return and wriggle food from her beak to the baby's beak.

But today the mother dove has been gone longer than ever before. It doesn't appear that she's coming back. The baby dove with speckled feathers is still there outside my window. It's perched and waiting for something. It must be waiting for the next big thing. — Brandon Walters

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