A certain family story tells of a young Cara, chasing a zoo peacock, intent on securing a jewel-toned tail feather. Another includes myself mercilessly harassing pigeons outside the Biltmore.
Today I accost fewer fowl, as I have developed a healthy respect for the bite of a large bird. You aren't likely to find me running down peacocks these days, but I still feel a rush of excitement when I spot a new or especially lovely species.
This enthusiasm is shared with my family members: The outright thrill of the indigo bunting, the perky delights of a gold finch; the hushed whispers of "Look! A hummer!"
For years, Mom and I have searched for new birds in a green-covered Audubon guide, dog-earing the pages or marking sightings on the glossy photos with a gold gel pen.
I last flipped through the book about a month back, and was surprised to find that the inscription in the front of the book was written to me, years ago, from my maternal grandparents.The little surprise of that handwritten note adds another layer to the value of the book.
It's a strange thing, but I feel that in years to come, that little green guide will be a much-cherished reminder of my family. Its pages hold three generations of handwriting from three generations of avian admirers.