Nothing charms us as much as birds. They possess the power to profoundly alter our lives and, if we set our egos aside and see and honor them for who they are, they can forever change the very essence of who we are and of how we perceive other species around us.
Recently, I had the good fortune to visit the beautiful Bavarian city of Munich. My husband was in a business meeting where I was not needed, allowing me to walk the old town area that surrounds the Marienplatz, the city’s famous central gathering place. It is dominated by the large Glockenspiel where, several times a day, a number of life-sized figures spring to lifelike animation and put on a show for the hundreds of spectators gathered below.
Less than a block away, sits St. Peter’s Church, a beautiful and very peaceful oasis in an otherwise extremely crowded and bustling area. As a lover of churches and cathedrals, I took longer than I initially planned, taking photographs and then sitting awhile in a state of peaceful contemplation.
Suddenly, I felt that I needed to leave … now! For whatever reason, I exited a different door from where I entered, which deposited me onto one of the busy streets that flow into Marienplatz. Opening the door I heard the distinctive honking of a goose and peals of delighted laughter from the crowds outside. At that moment, from my heightened vantage point at the top of the stairs exiting the church, I saw a bicyclist wearing a traditional Bavarian hat pedaling swiftly around the corner.
A large open wooden box with a little bed inside was secured on the back of his bicycle. Perched on the bed was a huge goose, happily honking at all the charmed and delighted spectators. Unfettered, the goose rode along behind her “dad,” secure in the knowledge that she was obviously a beloved and very important being in his life.
For myself, and I am reasonably sure for many others, that moment was one that will live in our memories forever. So that’s it, my moment of magic; too surprising and ephemeral to even catch on camera even though I tried to follow them and track them down. I have only my memory to remind me of the experience.
But Wait …
After I wrote the foregoing, I was saddened that I was not able to get a photo of the goose. Then I thought back on how serendipitous that moment had been. I realized that the goose only honked twice and stopped the moment I saw it. I remembered that I had intended to exit another door, to continue my trek through areas of Old Town Munich that I had not yet seen, but I was literally compelled to exit that particular door just in time for a four or five-second glimpse of the goose before she was out of sight. After thinking about the entire episode, I realized just how lucky I had been and decided to be happy and grateful for the experience I had.
On the last day of my visit, two days after my goose experience, I was thirsty and decided to visit the large open market plaza behind Saint Peter’s. Walking outside, toward the back of the church, preparing to cross the narrow street to the market, I was alarmed by the deep guttural screaming of a child having a full-blown tantrum. I saw a man, his wife and three young children. The middle child, who appeared to be in his “terrible twos,” was the source of the screaming. He was irritated about something and was on a real roll. He didn’t even slow down for air, but just kept howling. His parents, looking embarrassed and weary, decided to wait out the episode and stood by the church’s rear outside wall, away from the major crowds. Reassured that the child appeared to be physically fine, I moved on to the market. I purchased a bottle of water and took a sip. Then, for some reason, I did not know where I wanted to go. I stood in the same spot, along the main road behind the church, annoyed that I did not seem to be able to make a decision.
As I stood next to the narrow market street, mentally berating myself for not being able to simply decide which direction I wanted to walk, I again heard the familiar honking and nearly dropped my water bottle in my haste to grab the camera that I had slung around my neck. The goose only honked twice — just enough to draw my attention — and I squeezed off a few shots as they sped by. Like some crazed paparazzo on the heels of Angelina Jolie, I raised my camera above the crowd, shooting at whatever it happened to capture. The crowd was dense and the moment brief — only a few second — and I soon lost sight of the man and goose. Amazingly, another series of events had placed me in the same location as the man and his goose, allowing me to catch some much-desired photos of the duo.
I’m not stupid. I know a magical moment, a true gift, when I see it.
I also know that the thing that made the experience so memorable was the presence of the goose. A guy dressed Bavarian style peddling along with a dog riding behind him, although charming and cute, would not be magical. It takes a bird to create that, even one as “common” as a goose. The particular species simply does not matter because the magic is still there. All birds have the capacity to bring magic to every occasion. All we need to do is to pay attention and take a moment to recognize it.
Birds surprise us, enchant us and, if we are very, very lucky, they can, and will, steal our hearts away forever.