Magic Moments
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Magic Moments

By Maria Daddino

Once upon a magical time, I lived happily alongside a narrow, up-island creek. I would laugh at the antics of the ducks. I fed the swans during nor’easters and blizzards. I was thrilled one summer when a pair of young ospreys tried and tried again to build their nest atop a crane across the creek, and I was captivated by the great blue herons and snowy egrets as they fished for eels in the shallow water. I even helped both Mother and Father Goose during times of trouble, and cried whenever one of my “wild friends” did not return.

Then, quite suddenly, like all magical moments, it was gone. Though it saddened me, the time had come for me to move on. So with tears in my eyes and a heavy heart, I allowed myself one final look at this little piece of land that I so loved, and allowed myself one final goodbye to all my wild friends who, for 15 years, had a place in my heart. And with my precious memories tucked tenderly inside my heart, and the words of an old John Denver song playing in my head—“How can I leave you again, I must be clear out of my mind”—I left them for the final time.

Then with Pablo, Happy Bird and Kismet, all in their avian traveling cages perched precariously atop boxes stacked on the passenger seat of my car, and my upset 3-year-old blue merle collie, Misty Blue, sharing the back seat with even more boxes, I very slowly drove away ... not daring to look back.

For my journey east, I did not take Sunrise Highway; that would have been too quick a transition. I needed time to reflect, to understand the mixed feelings I was experiencing—some confusing, others bittersweet. And as I drove along Montauk Highway on that perfect, mid-August afternoon, I had to admit that there was a sense of excitement growing inside of me that I could not deny. New “wild friends” were waiting to be made, new woodland gardens were waiting to be planted, and new roads were waiting to be traveled.

I was moving to the East End, to a special place where natural buffers of oaks and pines, 25- to 50-feet deep, surrounded homes. A place where old trees were respected and left standing, and where native species would fill in the buffers. When my journey was finished, I would arrive in a nature lover’s dreamland.

But I was concerned. I realized that I would have to plan carefully if I expected wildlife to return. During construction of my home, I had looked for birds and squirrels, any signs of wildlife. But my land, surrounded by towering trees, was quiet and desolate. When it snowed, I trudged through the drifts searching the woods for any sign of life, but the only tracks in the snow were mine. And I knew I could never be happy again until the snow was crisscrossed with the tracks of birds and squirrels, deer and foxes, much as it had been at my old home.

Even as springtime approached, there were no melodious songs of birds in the trees. All was quiet ... very, very quiet.

It was suddenly September and my bird feeders were filled with corn and sunflower seeds for weeks. Surprisingly, my corn feeders, which I had filled every evening, were completely empty one morning. My imagination soared for I had heard about the rare birds of the East End. I began getting up earlier and earlier.

And then one day, just as the sun was about to rise, I stood transfixed as I spotted, on my own front lawn, a doe with her spotted fawn. The graceful mother ate from the feeder and then knocked it back and forth so that the corn spilled out onto the ground for her baby. I was mesmerized and enchanted as the little guy scampered around the front lawn, tasting everything, and then came up to my library windows trying to figure out if my houseplants were edible too!

As I looked through my window and into those curious, beautiful brown eyes, I couldn’t help but wonder: could I truly be that lucky again … could the magic really begin anew?

Maria Daddino writes the From Fourth Neck social column for The Southampton Press Western Edition.

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