Saturday, January 15, 2011

Gambel’s Quail

My favorite desert bird. Monogamous. Ground runners. Found in coveys. The male dude sports an absurd single feather that springs from his head. They are shy and cautious and quickly run away from you disappearing over the wall or through the underbrush. But when we visited the Phoenix Botanical Gardens, being used to people they came close, right under our chairs, at the outdoor eating area, waiting for the chance crumb (“Do Not Feed The Wildlife” but I’m a messy eater. Some things can’t be helped even if they’re illegal). I got one not-so-good shot, and a few seconds of their tiny peeping voices. I love them.

The next day as Peggy and I had a last breakfast together she had a little gift by my plate – a tiny Gambel’s Quail fashioned from a gourd. I’m delighted to bring him home. Reminder of God’s humor – the delight of certain creatures that spring from a barren desert to give us the gift of joy. I mean, not all do – consider the javelina or the rattle snake. But now this little gourd also reminds me of the long friendship we have fashioned through years of traveling together.
Henri Nouwen writes “Friendship is being with the other in joy and sorrow, even when we cannot increase the joy or decrease the sorrow.”  We’ve known this and it gladdens my heart.


Sandra Oster said...

There were a pair of quail at the place in the Coromandal that I saw when I went for a few days with friends. They were named by my friend: Vernon and Petunia. Vernon looked after Petunia and made sure she got her share of the crumbs we threw out for them. Very lovely creatures and that feather is very absurd but somehow beautiful in its glory. Love to you Friend.

Sam Van Eman said...

Marvelous how you make even a quick post about scavenging quail into something reflective.