The melancholy mantra of the mourning dove

Fairy Hill property (Photo by Bill Armstrong)

Fairy Hill property (Photo by Bill Armstrong)

August 9, 2017 | by Terri Trautman

Your imagination can, at times, completely devour your inhibitions to a point where those thoughts intensify and manifest in your brain. In this moment, you don’t know where reality ends and fantasy begins. Today was such a day.

It was a quiet day when I arrived at the Fairy Hill property in Saskatchewan. I approached the top of the hill, sat down and devoured the peaceful scenery in front of me. It felt good to be alive.

I sat still, willing my body to flow with my mind; anxiety and its colleagues, apprehension and stress, were difficult to shake. Finally, I felt them leave, and listened to the rustle of the long, willowy grass as it blew in the afternoon wind. It sang to me like a lullaby. My eyes felt heavy — I could feel the web of Morpheus, the Greek god of dreams, cover my eyes and I ascended to an atmosphere, where all thoughts and worries of the day melted into the clouds above.

Mourning dove (Photo by Ken Schneider)

Mourning dove (Photo by Ken Schneider)

It wasn’t long before I was asleep, or at least I thought I was. What followed was a bizarre dream that started the moment I closed my eyes.

I found myself perched on the top of a green ash tree, and I could smell the intoxicating fragrance of the clean air engulf me in a sense of tranquility. I noticed a mourning dove sitting next to me on the branch of the tree. I blinked my eyes a couple of times, thinking maybe I was seeing things. The dove moved close to me; it was not going to go away. It looked me straight in the eyes. Its “woo-OO-oo-oo” call echoed in my mind and I could actually hear it ask my name.

The dove began to mourn a soulful tune. He told me to remind people what would happen if we permitted ourselves to forget how important nature is, and he chanted this mantra to me:

Terri, look at the stream, it’s so unclean
Because of all the waste
The fishes have died and we cannot hide
The sins of the human race

Terri, look at the trees they have no leaves
The wind is dry and hot
The hole in the sky caused them to die
As care we did not

Terri, look at the sky it’s not that high
Because of all the dust
The man in the moon cannot be seen
And it’s all because of us

I looked at the dove, and the expression on his face was so forlorn that it broke my heart. Just as I reached over to comfort him, I awoke. I sat up and looked around, taking a moment to realize where I was.

Fairy Hill, SK (Photo by Cherie Westmoreland)

Fairy Hill, SK (Photo by Cherie Westmoreland)

The sun was starting to go down over Fairy Hill, and a slight chill went through me. My dream had left me with a heavy spirit. I took a moment to look around again at the beautiful sight that met my eyes. I thought about how terrible it would be if my grandchildren could not enjoy this beauty. As the sunlight descended to the other side of the world, I thought of the melancholy mantra of the mourning dove.

Fairy Hill is one of the Nature Conservancy of Canada’s properties featured in Nature Destinations, a program that invites you to take a journey through some of the greatest examples of our country’s natural areas and to connect with nature. Visit

Terri Trautman (Photo by Shaylee Booty-Sebastian)

About the Author

Terri Trautman In her spare time, Terri writes stories and poetry about nature, always moved by the way nature makes her feel and think.

Read more about Terri Trautman.

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