This I Believe

Matthew - Venice, California
Entered on July 25, 2006
Age Group: 30 - 50
Themes: death, nature

When I was a kid, every Friday or Saturday during each summer I would go out and mow the lawn, which was one of my many chores. I’d pull the car out, wheel the mower onto the driveway, and fill it up with gas. Then I’d give it a few pumps, push the throttle to high and yank the starter chain. I always began in the front yard and worked my way back, making big circle patterns on the outside and finishing in the middle. After the front yard was done, I’d walk through the house to the back and unlatch the gate on the side yard to push the mower through. Then I’d give the chain another yank and the engine would roar to life once again. I always sang songs in my head while I mowed because the sound of the mower would drown the rest of the world out, and the vibration from my hands on the push bar would make my brain tingle. On this particular day, I was making my first pass around the yard when I noticed something odd in the basement window well. I looked down and saw a fist-sized bird with its head buried in the corner of the well. I stopped the mower and grabbed a stick. I gently poked the little guy to see if he was alive. The bird did not move and I realized it was dead. I grabbed a paper towel, two Popsicle sticks and a rubber band for a cross, and buried him in our rock garden next to all of our other pets that had died-Snickers the guinea pig, Harry the hamster, and Fred the Finch. About a week later I was mowing the yard again and passed by the same window well. I could not believe my eyes. There was another bird in the same exact spot with its head buried in the corner. I thought for a second I might be dreaming. I grabbed another stick and gently prodded the little bird, but it was not alive. I grabbed two more popsicle sticks and a rubber band, and dug a little grave in the rock garden next to his buddy and placed him there. I started the mower back up and continued making patterns in the grass, wondering what had just happened. I realized that both these birds were the same species of dove. I went inside and grabbed an encyclopedia out of my dad’s study and flipped it to the “birds” section. It turned out that they were both “Mourning Doves”. The name comes from the fact that these birds have the same mate for an entire lifetime, and when one partner dies the other begins to mourn. I thought back to the twin mourning doves in my backyard and it occurred to me that one of them had died, and the other could not go on. The bird had died from broken heart. Everyone deserves a love like that.