This week I came across the following excerpt from BUZZARD EGGS and other big thicket recollections, by A.R. Fillingim (1897-1977):
Did you ever see a buzzard nest? If not, you might never see one … When it comes time to build a nest, they look until they find the thickest part of the woods, the most difficult for a person to get into, and make their nest … After I was grown I spent about twenty-five years living in the Thicket and I found three or four buzzard nests. One thing that I learned about them that surprised me was that they like pretty things and appreciate beauty. Who would think that a buzzard ever had a beautiful thought? At the nests I found, while the young ones were still in the nest, there were pieces of chinaware that had pretty flowers painted on the pieces, and pieces of glass that were blue or green—just anything that Mama or Papa buzzard thought was pretty. I suppose they wanted to give the little ones a bright outlook on life when they first entered the world.
I have never seen a buzzard nest, and now I know why.
But back in September I met a buzzard. She was a hard luck case — hit during her dinner on the side of a road, rescued, and rehabilitated. She will not fly again. So she cannot be released to resume her life as a wild thing. I see no beautiful thoughts behind that captive visage. Do you?
But after reading A.R.’s recollection, the hope did waft into my mind that perhaps the memory of “play-pretties” in her nest of origin keeps her outlook as bright as possible under the circumstances.
How “play-pretties” got into my vocabulary, I couldn’t say. The collective subconscious?
Following this train of thought, I looked up the definition of “play-pretty” in an on-line regional dictionary. I was amazed to find it used in a sentence as follows:
1913: ” The children have few toys other than rag dolls, broken bits of crockery for ‘play-purties,’ and such ‘ridey-hosses’ and so forth as they make for themselves.”
Here’s to collecting pretty bits and pieces, little esteemed in some eyes, but precious to ours.