Tailhook Episode

Hooks and FlowersEach spring, a pair of love birds prepare for the adventure of a lifetime: Children.

They give new meaning to the expression, “Birds of a feather flock together.”

More than just the two of them, the whole family joins in to celebrate the beginning of new life.

Actually, the bird type is Tree Swallow and a couple of them nest in a birdhouse on a pillar outside my kitchen window. Excitement reigns supreme as Mom and Dad take turns tossing out last year’s old furnishings and, then, gathering in the new grasses and feathers for their love nest.

All is relatively quiet for a couple of weeks as Mom keeps all warm at home and Dad stays busy with a modest fetch-and-carry routine. They seem to enjoy this time of peace and tranquility, abundant conversations, and visits from the rest of the family, who sometimes acknowledge the happiness with quick fly-bys.

All Is WellThen, everything changes! Quiet morphs into Rock-and-Roll. As quickly as Dad can leave the portal of open mouths, Mom is right there on deck with the next tender morsel. Bits and pieces of each meal are scattered around the house and, at the end of the day, Mom and Dad look frazzled.

As several weeks pass, those open mouths waiting patiently for food become voices screaming for attention: More, more, more! Hurry up, already! Yuk, another worm?! Mom and Dad, with the wisdom of experience, just wink at each other. Just a little bit more time and a big world will welcome all that chatter.

Leap of FaithOne morning, as I poured the first cup of coffee, there he was, Junior, standing on the hook of a hanging flower basket preparing for flight. Up and down the hook he wiggled, to find the perfect spot. Then, he stretched his wings several times, as he looked tip to tip. Tail feathers wiggled, he glanced down at the ground. Then, he seemed to focus on a spot in the distance just before he jumped … into nothingness.

He was airborne! Little bit wobbly; yet, he was definitely flying. The maiden voyage was a fairly small circle as he banked to the left to climb a little and then glide back down into cruising altitude. As he approached home, I found myself thinking, “Pull up, you’re coming in a little too fast!” Since, as a dad, I’m accustomed to talking to myself, I knew to keep quiet and just watch.

Sure enough, it was just like the Saturday morning cartoons. As Junior grabbed the hook with his little landing gear, the momentum almost swiveled him all the way around the hook. He struggled to keep his composure and, finally, regained his balance. Quickly, he looked around as if to say, “Boy, I sure hope nobody saw that!”

Then, an aura of accomplishment seemed to envelope his persona. He boldly stepped to the center of that hook, fluffed his wings, puffed out his chest, raised his sights a little higher, and leaped into his next flight.

Are we as brave? Do we learn from our children as much as (or, maybe even more than) we teach them? As we grow older, do we retain a youthful fascination for life?

The Cape

Kathy Mattea

(Guy Clark/Susanna Clark/Jim Janosky)

Eight years old with a floursack cape
Tied all around his neck
He climbed up on the garage
He’s figurin’ what the heck
Well, he screwed his courage up so tight
That the whole thing come unwound
He got a runnin’ start and bless his heart
He’s headed for the ground

Well he’s one of those who knows that life
Is just a leap of faith
Spread your arms and hold your breath
And always trust your cape

Now he’s all grown up with a floursack cape
Tied all around his dreams
And he’s full of spit and vinegar
And he’s bustin’ at the seams
Well, he licked his finger and he checked the wind
It’s gonna be do or die
He wasn’t scared of nothin’ boys
He was pretty sure he could fly

Well he’s one of those who knows that life
Is just a leap of faith
Spread your arms and hold your breath
And always trust your cape

Now he’s old and gray with a floursack cape
Tied all around his head
He’s still jumpin’ off the garage
And will be till he’s dead
All these years the people said
He was actin’ like a kid
He did not know he could not fly
So he did

Well he’s one of those who knows that life
Is just a leap of faith
Spread your arms and hold your breath
And always trust your cape

Yes, he’s one of those who knows that life
Is just a leap of faith
Spread your arms and hold your breath
And always trust your cape

While acknowledging that “discretion is the better part of valor”, when given the opportunity to take a leap of faith: Look both ways and then jump head-first into the Play-ground of life!

www.kimfoard.com

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