I remember taking my pellet gun into the field and around the yard hunting sparrows for my cats. I hunted in the barn sometimes but usually only owls and doves were in the barn. My dad told me never to shoot an owl because they were the clean-up crew for dead things on the farm and I was never to kill a dove because their eyes were so beautiful and peaceful.
We were in the barn one afternoon. Dad was working on his tractor and I was hunting for my cats. When he caught me taking aim at a dove he pulled me up onto the tractor seat with him. He put his finger to his lips and told me to be very quiet. We waited for a few minutes until the doves began to coo. I remember looking at dad and how his face lit up. He told me they were Morning Doves and they were talking with one another. He pointed out the male and female doves in the rafters and convinced me they were married. Dad told me they were like him and mom and that he loved listening to them when he was in the barn. He made me promise never to kill a dove. I never did.
I took my pellet gun out every day for a long time to shoot “food” for my cats. I was a good shot. When I opened the screen door on the back porch it would squeak and screech. My cats would come running when they heard the noisy door. They’d walk in circles around my feet as I’d walk between the almond tree in our driveway and the Magnolia trees in our front yard. I had to pump air pressure into that pellet gun each time before I could fire it. I always got at least one bird for each cat when I went hunting with them.
Walter Biasca who lived across the street stopped in our yard one afternoon while I was hunting with my cats. He told me in front of dad if we ran out of birds on our side of the street he had a couple of trees full of birds in his backyard. Dad told him right away that I was not allowed to cross the street. When Mr. Biasca had gone home dad told me never to cross the street to hunt. I think it was as much for the reason that he and mom didn’t want me within ear shot of Mr. Biasca’s vocabulary as it was for not crossing the street. Mr. Biasca used lots of words I didn’t understand and never heard anyone else use. Mom said they were ugly words! Anytime mom or dad would see him coming our way to visit I would be sent immediately into the house or the back yard. A couple times I listened from just inside the door or through the fence. I figured out real quick why mom and dad didn’t want me to hear him speak!
Years later, as we greeted friends coming to sign the guest book the day before dad's funeral, I noticed the gentle cooing of doves coming from outside the building. I thought of the time I’d spent with dad in the barn so long ago. I’m glad I never killed a dove. When we left the building I saw several nests under the eves. There were two definite pairs of doves “talking” to one another. I was thankful for those doves. It might sound odd but I was greatly comforted by their cooing. I think it is possible that God uses all types of things to encourage and comfort us. I also think sometimes we forget to listen for the sounds of His comfort.
While I was putting this little book together and searching for a picture of doves I found the one you see here. My eyes stung as I read their name. They aren’t Morning Doves at all. The are Mourning Doves.