A.C. Snow

High hopes for baby bluebirds

I had hoped by some miracle that the four baby bluebirds would survive the inferno of their backyard residence, a box with a couple of ventilation holes near the top.

For a week or more, I had watched to be sure the parents were bringing food to their offspring. I finally opened the door of the birdhouse and saw four gaping beaks gasping either for air or worms.

I tried to convince myself that nature would take care of its own and they would survive, even in 101-degree outside heat. But I’m not blaming nature, which planned for birds to nest in trees, not in poorly ventilated wooden boxes with metal roofs.

When the parents stopped bringing food, I suspected the worst. I opened the door to find four little inert forms that didn’t respond to my touch.

If only the little ones could have hung on for another day or two, as they were fully feathered and seemingly ready to fledge.

I felt sadly disappointed. If His eye is on the lowly sparrow, why wasn’t it on the baby blues, which are far more beautiful?

I planned a simple funeral.

Some years ago, a Chapel Hill reader wrote to say that her young son came in at lunch to report that he and his friends had just conducted a funeral for a young bird that had fallen from its nest high in a tree.

She asked for details.

“Well,” he said, “we dug a little grave and put the bird in it and laid some leaves over it, and then we covered it with dirt. Tommy said some nice words about the little bird and then we all sang a song.”

“And what did you sing?” the mother asked.

“We sang ‘We don’t give a damn for Duke University,’ because that was the only song all of us knew,” the youngster replied.

My daughter, visiting from Florida, and I went out the next morning to do the funeral. She dug a grave beside a clump of rose of Sharon bushes. I opened the box and reached for the nest of birds. A fluff of feathers raised its head!

Next day, after much fluttering about by the parents, I found the nest empty. A mini-miracle in the rose of Sharon patch.


Being a “Christian” is many things to many people, often defined to suit the individual mind.

But relatives of the victims of Charleston’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church massacre set some very high standards for the term “forgive” following the murder of nine worshipers at a Bible study.

Several told accused killer Dylann Roof to his face that they forgave him.

“I will never be able to hold her again, but I forgive you,” the daughter of victim Ethel Lance said. “You hurt me. You hurt a lot of people, but God forgives you and I forgive you.”

But I wonder in admiration if her heart forgives him? Despite words spoken in a noble expression of faith, the hurt in her heart will last a lifetime. I doubt that I could ever emulate her compassion.

Fence around Raleigh?

And as I sat in my car waiting to enter Glenwood Avenue, just west of Crabtree Valley Mall, I fumed over the unceasing river of traffic flowing by.

“It’s time to stop this town’s growth!” I thought. “No more building permits! No more recruiting new businesses. No more condos, service stations or supermarkets.”

I identified with presidential aspirant Donald Trump who wants to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico. Why not build a wall around Raleigh and issue visitor permits for outsiders with Raleigh connections?

There once was a stoplight at this intersection. But the trucking industry got in bed with the bureaucrats and had it removed. Truckers didn’t like losing momentum as they climbed the steep hill just beyond the intersection.

How big does Raleigh want to be? Isn’t a population of more than 431,000 big enough?

When I came to the capital city in the late 1950s, Raleigh was a warm-hearted little town of 60,000 satisfied souls. It had charm and vivacity.

Crabtree Valley was a cow pasture. Beyond the Carolina Country Club was the beginning of no-man’s land. The long-gone Ranch Motel located near what is now Pleasant Valley shopping center was one of the few structures between Raleigh and Durham.

Then the word got out. Others from across the country also wanted a little piece of paradise. You know “the rest of the story.”