How perfect I thought as we made the turn, this most glorious approach to Edisto’s Botany Bay. What a spectacular introduction to the South Carolina Lowcountry.
We were here, we Wise Women, friends for 50 years, mountain girls gathered for an annual reunion weekend in my home state. We parked, unloaded, and started the gorgeous walk through the wildlife preserve to the beach.
We’re going to see a Painted Bunting I said out loud, knowing it for sure, knowing in my heart. Knowing the sheer wish of it on this day, in this place, with these friends, was enough to make it come true.
We walked and watched, listened and looked. In no time at all, we reached the shore.
Time for wandering. Time for wondering. Time for—well, time.
We eventually gathered to make the pretty walk back, and I turned my attention to the birds. We could hear them there in the deep green, birds so well camouflaged along the jungled path it was impossible to spot even the slightest movement. It would be cool to know his call, to know he’s in there, I thought, pulling my trusty iPhone from my back pocket. I typed painted bunting song and there it was. The song of a Painted Bunting.
Play it again, so he can hear it, she said. And so I did, again, and again. And before long you can guess just what happened. A lone voice in the jungle came singing back to us.
iPhone. Jungle. iPhone. Jungle.
We gathered around, each of us peering deeply into the trees, each watching for any sign of movement.
The jungle sound came closer.
There he is! someone said, pointing to a branch just above us, a branch so backlit it was impossible to identify anything more than the shape of a bird.
I handed the phone to Sharon, who played the love song again while I grabbed for my camera, praying for a setting that would show a Painted Bunting, the brilliant colors of this rare bird, this most beautiful of songbirds. That’s when he dove down toward the phone, then up to a limb on the other side of the path.
A short jump and he was there in a tree with a branch perfectly positioned in front of us.
Another short hop and we could finally see his wing, this young painted bunting, posing and singing, singing and posing, making magic before our very eyes.
We couldn’t believe our luck, the drawing out of this shy bird willing to join our little posse for a few moments, happily bringing his joy and his beauty and his song.
How generous in spirit he was.
How like this group of women.