And, doves

by Lorin Michel Wednesday, October 18, 2017 8:11 PM

When I was a baby, my grandmother gave me a silver chain with a silver dove on the end. I don’t remember getting this gift, but I remember the necklace and wore it for years. I went through a phase in my teens where I preferred gold so I stopped wearing the dove and eventually forgot about it. The serpentine chain curled up into an odd spiral and sat wedged in the bottom of my jewelry box. I went through college and then moved west. My jewelry box and my dove traveled with me.

At some point, I got my left ear pierced again so that I had two holes in that lobe. For a while in the 80s I wore the big, dangly, wild earrings that went with the big hair of the era. When I was just around the house, though, I tended toward small studs in each ear. I was forever looking for something that would be interesting for that second hole. And then I remembered the dove on the serpentine chain. I found my old jewelry box, long stuffed under the sink in the bathroom, unraveled the chain to remove the charm, and inspected the now tarnished silver dove. It was as I remembered it. I was still wearing mostly gold so I had an idea: have another made in gold. I found a jeweler who would do just that, and within weeks I had a duplicate dove in 18 karat gold. I slipped it onto a small gold loop earring and wore it nearly every day. I still have it and still wear it regularly. It’s not necessarily sentimental even though my grandmother has now been gone for some time. It’s more nostalgia. And I actually like it. It brings me peace. Funny how a small talisman can do that.

This morning, from the bedroom, we could see there were birds on the railing just outside the breakfast nook. From our room, we have a view nearly straight through the house. One bird became two became three and soon a dozen, probably more. As we got up and inched quietly toward the great room, we could see they were doves. Some were sitting on the railing, some were in our planters, with four alone sitting in our lantana, nestled amongst the pink and purple and orange blossoms.

We had never seen so many birds, let alone doves sitting on our deck at one time. We have a number of doves that we watch flitting through the desert, landing on an ocotillo or a saguaro. We wonder how they do that – how any bird does that – without impaling themselves. They bob and peck their way across the driveway and the road. They coo. But to see all of them there at once was a sight.

Riley decided he wanted to see, too, but we called him back and made him sit while we crept ever closer to try to take pictures before they flew off. We got a couple, and then they were gone, leaving small downy feathers in their wake.

Doves symbolize peace. They have long appeared in religions from Judaism to Christianity to Paganism. They are depicted by the military and pacifist groups alike. Ultimately, they are a symbol of innocence, gentleness and freedom. They represent what is good and right and beautiful in the world.

In this time of constant outrage and fear, of continuing stress and angst, I choose to embrace that. Perhaps that’s why the dove from my grandmother has been with me so long, has traveled with me, has lasted some 50 plus years. Hope endures. It’s something to hold onto because even when it flies away, it eventually returns and that’s something to celebrate.


live out loud

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