Sunday, July 8, 2012

July 8th is nineteenth day of summer. 75 days of Summer 2012 await your bliss. It is the day of the Mourning Dove.


This Sunday finds me on the grounds of the final burial place of Pere Marquette. The site located in North St. Ignace has a museum in the mission building, preserved by the efforts of the local Kiwanis. If it is indeed the remains of Pere Marquette under the limestone marker, it would be a miracle. Not only were the remains recovered once from the sands of Ludington, the chapel where these remains were reinterred was destroyed when the fort around it was abandoned. So the remains seem to have been lost and recovered more than once.

I am sitting on a bench inside a long house covered with strips of birch bark. A number of the strips would blow off in a wind and gaps between the strips would let in rain. A few pelts, one rabbit, hang from the birch sapling matrix, lashed together with twine. The long house stands inside the mission building, intended to illustrate the idea of the long house, not to shelter people.

Last night, as the sun's decent brought shadows to Market Street at top of Benjamin Hill, I began to hear two mourning doves in an apparent conversation. I could see a pigeon like bird on the peak of a two story house, a house on the corner of Market and the road leading up to the Grand Hotel. I could make out this bird's silhouette, the shadow hiding details of color. I couldn't make out the dove on the roof of the two story residence kitty-corner. The bird was further back on the roof line.

I saw a pair on the roof line of a house covered with cedar shakes, next door to the Mackinac Island library. I had a great seat on the deck, enjoying one of the Adirondack chairs. I still heard the song and saw only shadow silhouettes, but it appeared if suitors arrived, sang a mating lieder, and flew off to try another speed date on a different roof line.

When I was in my twenties, I believed I could imitate the mourning dove call well enough to receive an answer. I believed I was having conversations with mourning doves in the field and then wondered if my call was working. No doves flew on over, so that's probably a sign that I had the call wrong. I probably sounded like a mourning dove drunk on fermented seeds to females listening. The males within earshot probably thought, "If that's the competition, I am in like Flynn."

I once was a climber of trees and willows were the easiest, especially when the trunks fell to the ground under the weight of its wood. I once climbed up into a willow's boughs and came face to face with a mourning dove who didn't fly off. I don't remember a nest, though. This happened twice, same branch and maybe the same mourning dove.

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