X Marks the Spot


Years ago, looking at some Common sparrows on the ground, a birder friend despaired, “How could any bird be called ‘common’?” At the time I wasn’t wild about nature; her comment went right by me. The birds looked pretty common to me.

Early last Sunday morning, pockets stuffed with carrots, I took the neighborhood walk, disappointed that the day ahead meant there wasn’t enough time for a long forest walk. Instead, over to horse-friends Oatie and Tessa I went. Before I could hand them their treats, a young cat scampered up to me, rubbing my legs and when I bent to pet her she jumped onto my legs and from there onto my shoulder, draped herself around my neck, snuggled in, purring. (The horses were less interested in her than I was.) Each time I put the kitten down to continue my walk, she ran after me. So I crouched down street-side to pet and play, felt a surge of happiness, and resisted the urge to take the kitty home. Standing up, a scuffling sound turned my head and there on the street, proceeding toward me was a small buck—fur still covering his rack of antlers. We stopped and looked at each other, long and slow. The kitten’s attention got taken by a wind-swept leaf. The buck went on his way and I went on mine.

Just before turning onto my street, I looked up to the sky and saw plane-trails that formed a large X in the sky. Oh, I thought, X marks the spot, indeed. I’d found myself in the just-right place once again. Maybe not so common, after all…