This was Polly.....born Feb 12th, 1919 and passed away August 16th, 2021. She was my mom.....
You know, a mom leaves a mighty large impression on a person....all the little things said and done and taught and scolded upon, as one lives life. It also seems that a mom does 'just that' their entire life. Their influence is not bestowed upon just the 'under 10 crowd' but throughout life, as long as we can stretch it.
But to go back....to when I was under 10, well....5 in this case. We were living in Stockton, California at the time. In our back yard we had fruit trees of all varieties, sticking up in the grass, sometimes with tall grass and fruit droppings nestled down or perhaps stepped on and embedded in the This was a haven for worms and insects. Birds too... and I only wish I could recall what species visited us. Yet I do recall one and that was because my mom told me once....she said' 'Jimmy jones (as she called me), when the Robins come in the yard, that means that spring is here', (apparently even in California at the time).
So my love of birds started with that statement and from then, a yearly reflection of that story as I view a robin anytime in the year. My mom started me in the 'bird business' and it has been a life long passion.
But my mom also taught me about nature in general. While I am not one that can rattle off like others might, I do appreciate and perhaps more so than others do, that of nature. My mom taught me how to pick up bees without getting stung. You see, it is crucial that you become part of the habitat. They 'find you' and you don't go chasing them. Once you are in their habitat, and yes, those same fruit trees that attracted Robins and worms and other things, also was an attraction for bumble bees. They stirred around the trees and landed on peaches and apricots; on and off the ground. As I would find a dry spot to sit on the grass, I would lay still and move my hand, ever so slowly to a bee resting on a failed fruit. My fingers would approach them and the fruit, and I would be that fruit. They would just transfer their body to my fingers and devour the juices stuck to my 5 year old hands. Birds and bees. My mom introduced me to that; of all things.
My mom was a naturalist in her own way....didn't really know the names of birds as she would ask me. She grew up on the Wishka, which was a polish community located on the Olympic Peninsula, north of Aberdeen, WA. Here, on the farm......she learned about nature. She was especially aware of cows, which to them....was part of life but also part of nature. She would tell me that as a kid, it was her job to bring in the cows, especially when it was going to storm. But bringing in the cows is no easy task, and although she had a portion of her 10 siblings to help her, they had to 'know the cows' and understand them. She had to know where they would be on the property and once there, how does a kid 'bring them in?". From the pastures, to the trails, to the barn..... so in some sense, she was a Cow Whisperer.
As an adult....she would go on 3-4 mile walks every day, even when she neared 100 years old. Her tales coming home always included something of nature. Perhaps the Kingbird resting on the wires before bellowing out it's call, or a snake on the path that she would spook and then, for some reason unknown to her, would be able to slither into a hole. I remember her asking me...'how does that snake know where that hole is, when they are both on the ground and the snake can't see the hole, like I can standing here?". I never had a reply. One time on her walks she was spotting by a mountain lion as it was nestled under a tree on a bluff. She just kept walking. Her walk passed near the Mill Creek River and fish ladders were in place and yes, she wondered about the fish. How do they know to swim to their place of birth? How can they jump those 'ladders'.... The osprey was another topic of thought with my mom. For days she would walk and watch and count the times the osprey made a dive for a fish, and she would tally up the times it dove and came up empty or bird in beak'.
Nature was part of my mom since she was a little girl. Just like nature has been part of my life since I too, was a little guy. My mom still talked of Robins and she even recalled me (jimmy jones) picking up bees and never getting stung.
Thanks mom..... you were such a huge part of my life and now, while passed, you still are. love jimmy jones.