He was walking his dog along the edge of the grass, carefully and quietly — like one does in this place. I saw him out of the corner of my eye as I talked softly to an old friend. Her birthday would have been Sunday. I brought her pink geraniums, which I set down next to the pot of pansies from her son.
“You have a perfect spot here,” I said, as I dusted away grass clippings.
Just then, I noticed an osprey gliding gracefully above the river, and watched until it disappeared behind the spring-green leaves that lined the edge of the hill.
The gravel of the path made a soft tick tick tick noise beneath my tires as I drove away, slowly passing the old man and his dog. He turned when he heard me, and smiled.
“If you look over there,” I said, as I stopped next to him, “you can see an osprey flying above the river.”
“I think they’re from the nesting platform over there,” he nodded, pointing to a place I could not see in the distance.
“Aren’t they beautiful?”
“Yes. Yes they are,” he said with a sad smile.
We watched the osprey together for a while.
“There are hawks, too,” he spoke into the silence.
“I know, I often see them on my walks,” I said, “Red tail, mostly.”
“Ah, you know birds, then? My wife and I used to sit on our patio and watch the migrating birds as they arrived in town. They’d flock to a tree we planted when we first moved here.”
“We are blessed to live in this place, aren’t we?” I could tell he knew.
“We lived here for 40 years. My attorney is buried over there now, and our neighbors on that hill there, next to my wife.”
“It is a perfect spot,” I whispered, as we both watched the osprey swoop across the river again.
“They say the pairs return to each other in the spring, in the same place,” he said. “They’re coming home.”
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©2012 Jen Payne