HARMON: Seeking the best of us

December 11, 2013 

I met a nice lady at a tennis function over at Reynolds Plantation the other day. She said, “Hey, you’re the guy that writes about dogs.” Some folks don’t like dogs, but the older I get, the more I enjoy the company of a dog or watching birds

Most folks are too busy for that I suppose. After all, the fantasy world of TV and the Internet is very alluring. But, if you like feeling missed when you leave home for a while, a dog is your best bet.

Not many folks will look for you like a dog will with its nose to the floor, checking out every corner of the house. Plus, when is the last time your wife wagged her tail and barked when you came home? Well, some will bark, I suppose, but a dog’s bark is different.

Also, it takes a lot to rile a dog when he’s just hanging out or resting. I believe they ponder the worth of getting upset over little things and decide it’s just not worth the trouble.

On the subject of birds, a lot of them mate for life, something humans don’t do much of anymore. Of course, most of our birds’ lives are not very long with a mating season dependent upon weather and food supply.

Now I don’t know if two male birds mate for life or two females, but isn’t that interesting? Yes, we can learn a lot from dogs and birds.

My mother and I were sitting on the porch one day watching some mocking birds flying around a bird bath. She said, “Could you imagine a world with no birds?” I couldn’t. But, as I’ve said before, animals were blessed in the Garden of Eden so there must be something special about them and it was a dove used by Noah that found dry land.

Here’s a true story about a bird I came across at the beach one day. “I walked past a large rock and there he was, hanging with wings askew, watching his family and friends as they chased bread tossed by screaming children further down the beach. He was a big one, wings spanning a foot but obviously worn out from his lifelong struggle to touch the clouds and provide for his family. As he lay there, his head began to droop, making it difficult to see the sky and he would throw it back occasionally for what might be the last time he ever saw a cloud. I’m sure he was hoping people would simply walk on by and not gawk but let him pass away in peace.

Usually they go off somewhere to do that but it was a long fly across the jetty and probably too much for the old bird. From the look of him, he’d been flying the waters of the bay for years and no doubt missed those days. I suppose he felt at home there on the rock above the sand, but I had this feeling he was wishing he could have soared on high one last time -- feeling the wind lift and turn his tired old body as he watched from a safe distance those below playing on the beach.

As I got closer, I noticed him cock his head to the side to get a better look. I paid little attention, not wanting to embarrass the old fellow, but I think I caught a nod, maybe a wink as he seemed to say, “You too will see a day such as this my human friend.” What else may he have been thinking? Memories of catching a piece of bread while flying three to 40 feet off the ground or diving into the water, catching a fish only he could see and then flying out? Perhaps the families he had raised? They don’t abandon their young, you know. Yes, we can learn a lot from birds. So he laid there, hours to go, wings splayed about, hanging off a rock. He was after all, just a seagull.”

Stories of abused animals and birds are seen frequently these days and you wonder why. Could it be we’re seeing the best of us in most of them?

Sonny Harmon is an educator at Georgia Military College. Visit his blog at http://sharmon09.blogspot.com.

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