Friday, March 21, 2008

The Return of the Whippoorwill

My original book title had to be changed six weeks before its release, due to the fact that it was being used by another writer. One of my daughters and I were editing a section of the book concerning a bird my three youngest girls had found intriquing so many years ago. They could only hear its three syllable trill, as it was an illusive nocturnal bird. They called it their 'Theodore' bird because its song sounded like that word. I had caught sight of the fantailed white and brown tail feathers of an unusual bird one day as the sun was setting. My neighbor told me it was a whippoorwill.
Kelly and I decided to listen to bird songs and find pictures of that bird and maybe use it in the title. This bird was a part of our lives and our loss, since it sings a bright lilting tune in spring but a gutteral, sad song of summer's loss. That summer of 1981 as the whippoorwill mourned, so did we. It is said in an old English legend that the whippoorwill helps carry a soul to heaven when someone dies. I found that comforting . . .and so AND THE WHIPPOORWILL SANG became the new title for the book--and just in time.
In late summer of 2007 as I was barely able to write the heartwrenching end to my memoir, I heard the song of the whippoorwill each night from dusk to midnight. All other birdsong had ceased by then except for some angry cackling by other birds trying to get their young ones settled down for the night. They didn't seem to appreciate the whippoorwills lullaby. I never saw it, except for glimpses of its unmistakable tailfeathers flying away from my house. I had never heard or seen a whippoorwill in the 26 years I lived here and it is not native to my city. It stayed as if to comfort me until I wrote the last two words to my book, 'The End', and was never heard again.
I was recently coming home from work after a gruelling week with tension and illness wearing me down. A low-flying bird flew right past me. I recognized the tailfeathers. "Could that be my whippoorwill?" I thought. It swooped down into my bushes and let me get as close as a foot away from it. I finally got to see the whole body and it was a handsome creature, completely unafraid of me. When I mentioned this to my husband, he said, "Oh yeah, I meant to tell you. It's been here a few days now. It follows me around and sits in the bushes outside my den window."
I felt warm inside, healed in body, mind and spirit. Once again the one I lost had sent me a sign from another realm, telling me, as my publisher always says, "Don't worry-it's all good." I hope it stays with me till summer's end as it reminds me that my loved one is alive and well and watching out for the family.
Micki PelusoPosted on Friday, Mar 21, 2008, 06:16 PM (UTC -4)


  1. dear micki,

    isn't it strange and wonderful that birdies play a role in your book as well as mine? i've always been drawn to avian metaphor. there is in the Torah the mitzvah of "shooing away the mother bird" the exact meaning of which has been the subject of endless speculation throughout the ages ... i don't know but for me there is nothing quite so wonderful as either the mother duck or goose leading her sturdy band of ducklings and/or goslings in an "unwaddlingly" straight line
    across the road, and before i put you to sleep with my remarks i recall a particularly memorable exhibit at the chicago museum of science and industry and quite the favorite for many generations of kids-both the child-kid and the adult-kid ... that of the eggs under the heating lamp left to their own devices and with plenty of advisory notice that the egg shells not be touched or their battle weary occupants given any assistance whatsoever ... that before long the indefatigably worn-out but victorious chick emerges from the shell, obviously beat, more than a tad shaken up but as cute as can be. this i've always known was one of His (look up ...!) ways to cause folk to cry over something quite wondrous, profoundly complex yet simple enough to mesmorize the most callous ...

    your friend,

    alan busch

  2. That's a wonderful post Micki. Love to see a picture of your book cover on your blog. It would be a wonderful addition.


  3. As the whippoorwill sings loud and clear in my front yard, I just logged on to find a picture of the whippoorwhill and found your great blog. A neighbor and I have a fight each year to see who will call who first with the first song of our local friend. We look forward to our 8:45 pm good night tune. Thank you for the legend that says a whippoorwhill helps to carry a soul to heaven...I just love that. Micki, I'm so glad you have found peace and healing with your own local friend. Know your daughter is indeed looking out for you and the family.
    Signed, Serenaded sweetly in CT

  4. Dear Karen,
    I stumbled upon your comment the same way you found me lol.It's seems few find my blog unless I have a contest going--which I do. Anyway, my whippoorwill seems to have left again--only comes when I seem to need him. However, I know he was/is around because the mockingbirds are imitating his song--the little devils. Do you and your neighbor ever get to actually see your whippoorwills? I only got that priviledge this spring and it shouldn't have been out as it was almost noon, but there it was sitting under a bush by my window, watching me. I took pictures of it to make sure I wasn't going crazy. Visit again!! Next time, I'll have coffee brewing!


  5. Thank you. Yesterday we had a small memorial gathering for my mother. It was held, at her request, In a room filled with cherished memories of Christmas past. All pink, rose and wine colors -- no place to incorporate the Blue Rose that Mama, on her death bed, had declaired to be her favorite flower. Mama, once a florist,would not have permitted it.
    Two nights before the gatering, while fallening asleep, the words "my blue heaven" popped into my head. This lead me to the lyrics of Frank Sinatra's song "my Blue Heaven". I had to trust my instict and recite it at the memorial, without having really researched its meaning. After reading your blog, I am convinced I did the right thing.

    "When Whipporwills call and evening is nigh,
    I hurry to my blue heaven.
    You'll see a smiling face, a cozy room,
    A little nest that's nestled --
    Where the roses bloom.
    We're happy in my blue heaven."