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Tuesday, July 19, 2005

That's Why It's a Sin to Kill a Mockingbird

Mockingbirds don't do one thing but make music for us to enjoy. They don't eat up peoples gardens, don't nest in corncribs, they don't do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That's why it's a sin to kill a mockingbird.
- "To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee

After reading DominionFamily's viper tale, I thought I'd tell my own family's snake story.

Five years ago, my husband had a new job that required frequent business trips. The first day of his first trip was a warm summer Saturday and the children (then four and two) and I opened the front door to fetch the mail. No sooner did we step onto the porch, then we spied a large black snake poking its head up through the hedges that surround our front porch. I screamed in fright.

Now you must understand: snakes terrify me. In my own narrow little mind, the only good snake is a dead snake. To add to my trouble, it turned out there were actually two snakes in the hedges. Perhaps the snakes were drawn to my scream, I don't know, but for some reason they raced up the front porch to the front door. The children and I ran inside and slammed the door just in time to prevent those serpents from entering the house. We attentively watched the snakes while huddled together on the couch and looking out the front window onto the porch. Nearly an hour passed and those snakes just would not leave.

So there I was: wimpy me, two little children, and no man around to get rid of the snakes. Plus, I felt like the snakes were barricading us inside. I did the only thing I could think of; I called my brother-in-law. He wasn't home. So I began to pray. It was the heartfelt prayer of a desperate woman. Just then, a large bird swooped down and pecked at the snakes. Again and again this bird flew down and pecked at those snakes. The snakes quickly slithered off the porch, down the sidewalk, down the driveway, across the street, and eventually made it to safety in the shrubs across the street. All the while, that bird was divebombing and attacking those two snakes.

The snakes turned out to be Black Racers, mean but not poisonous. At the time, I thought the bird was a Northern Kingbird but, after we began homeschooling and nature study, I realized it was actually a Mockingbird. Every year, Mockingbirds nest in the Live Oak above our porch and I have long thought it was a mother Mockingbird protecting her young that warm summer morning when the Black Racers came calling. I have also long thought that that Mockingbird was sent after those snakes as an answer to my prayers. Now, when I see a Mockingbird I think I understand why Harper Lee said it was a sin to kill one.


Blogger Mwalimu Daudi said...

The mockingbird is the state bird of Texas (our home). Maybe those who chose this bird knew a thing or two....

9:04 PM  

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