And a rooster in an oak tree

There are some things that you just can’t un-see.  A  big rooster perched on a large branch of an oak tree is one of those things. Now, I’m no chicken expert, but I’m pretty sure that large oak trees next to highways in northern Minnesota are not normal resting places for boy chickens.

I have just shared everything I know about roosters in that first paragraph, in case you were wondering.

Through the years, I’ve seen a lot of things in trees. Bald eagles, smaller birds, raccoons, even a couple of woodchucks. Not all at the same time, thank goodness. Anyway, here’s what happened. I was cruising up 169 just north of Garrison when I spotted the bright red comb and large, plump, brown body about seventy-five feet off the ground. I didn’t dawn on me until I passed that what I’d seen was an honest-to-goodness rooster in an oak tree. I thought of going back to take a picture so people wouldn’t think I was just making stuff up. Then I decided that the only thing more ridiculous than seeing a rooster in an oak tree would be the image of a scrawny, gray-haired woman in a raincoat standing outside her tiny car on a rainy Sunday in May taking a cell phone picture of a rooster in an oak tree.

The rest of the way home, I thought about that darn rooster.  How had he gotten up there? What if he was stuck like a cat? Can roosters climb trees? Had he been raised by eagles and didn’t know he was a rooster? Was he bored with chickens and hoping to find a grouse hen to court?

So many questions with no answers.

Someone is going to tell me that it was a big woodpecker and not a rooster that I spied high in that tree. They will smile sadly and think I’ve finally gone ’round the bend or need to get my eyes checked. I just know it.

But here’s the deal.

When a woman of a certain age tells you she’s seen a rooster in an oak tree, you best believe her. And if you happen to be traveling to the Twin Cities on Highway 169, look for a big oak on the east side of the road right before you get to Lake Mille Lacs. I bet he’ll still be there acting like an eagle. Or maybe just trying to figure out how to get down.

Looking as regal as it is possible for any rooster in an oak tree to look.

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Mother’s Day 2017

I loved them before I ever knew them.

Women who give birth to babies who look a little like them and a little like the father say that about the children they carry.  That they loved the child even before the child was born. That when the babies were placed on their chests after birth and they gazed into the baby’s eyes for the first time, they recognized the children as theirs.  I’ve been told this by more than one mother.

Even though they looked nothing like me, I recognized mine, too.  I looked at their faces in photographs sent from an adoption agency half a world away, and in that moment, everything, EVERYTHING finally made sense.  And I became a mother. Their mother.

Even after all these years, I still don’t know where I end and they begin.  When they are happy, I am happy.  When they hurt, I hurt more. They are my first thoughts every morning and my last bedtime prayer.  They do not yet understand this kind of love.  Someday they may, and it will probably humble and frighten them in the same ways that it has me. You think you know, but nothing prepares you for this kind of love.  It kind of drops you to your knees. Over and over. It drops you.

Mother’s Day is the day set aside to honor our mothers.  We visit or send flowers or make a phone call to wish our own mother a happy day.  It’s kind of commercial and pretty much expected in May.  Today, I am thinking about all of my friends who are missing their mothers. Women who tell me I am fortunate that I can still visit mine.  It’s true.

I am thinking about the women who yearn for that humbling, frightening, kind of love for a child, too.  Because I was one of those for a really long time before I became a mother through the miracle of adoption. I think of the two special mothers I never met who I share the day with. Women who trusted that the universe would be kind to the babies they brought into the world. A son. A daughter. Double blessings.

The ones we share who call me Mom.

Happy Mother’s Day.