She stopped walking abruptly and put a hand on my arm. "Look! A cardinal." With her finger splayed and marginal patience, she pointed out the tree in which the bird landed. "What a beautiful creature" she mused. "Of course, it really isn't a sign of spring to see a cardinal. They don't migrate." Knowing that she probably knew, I asked why. "They're bad fliers" she stated matter of factly, pointing out the way in which they kind of hop and dip in the air when they fly. She went on to tell me that they would not have the stamina to fly for long periods of time, especially over water. "The good thing is, they know this about themselves, and they're okay the way they are." Indeed. Some birds are made to soar, to dip, to migrate. Others know their limitations and stick around to provide a splash of color and a song to those who stop to notice. I wonder briefly if birds, like humans, envy eachother. I ponder whether the cardinal ever longs to spread its wings with greater certainty, or if the goose ever wishes it could just settle down. I marvel at our need for and appreciation of both.
I'm pulled back from thinking by my daughter's giggle. She has launched into another story, bird forgotten. I love to watch her move. She walks with purpose, with the gangly poise of a swan in transition. She speaks with her whole body, gesticulating wildly. She laughs with her whole being. She loves with her whole heart. I want to pave the way for her emergence into the pond. I want to tell her that this physical body of hers will probably change and morph a hundred times through her lifetime. I want to touch her arm and tell her to stop, to look, to appreciate her reflection just as it is right now. I want to tell her that for all of the awkwardness she may feel over these next few years, she has always been, and will always be a swan. Whether she chooses to dart into dark spaces and share her colors, or spread her wings and soar each time instinct tells her to migrate, her path is her own, and I feel honored and humbled to watch her fly.