Birds & Bobcats

& A Little Boy

(Kitt Peak, Yom Kippur 5780)

I’m guessing he was 9 or so.

He went on all three tours.

I’m not sure who his parents were.

He was with a group of nine nice adults.

They all listened attentively to our talks,

both to mine and my fellow docent, Phil’s,

asked intelligent questions and laughed

in all the right places!

Bless their eager, smiling faces!


But best of all was The Little Boy.


Inside the McMath-Pierce Solar Telescope’s

viewing gallery, I gave science facts, and also

included lighter stuff like how the three mirrors

on top are cleaned with Orvis Horse Shampoo,

a mild soap, which I said women my age

might recall girls using in high school.

I got two grins. I added that the mirrors

got dirty from birds and bobcats

 leaving their marks on them.


“How do bobcats get up that high?”

asked The Little Boy. (The mirrors rest on

a 100-foot tower to help lower the heat.)


 “I guess they must climb up

 the slants outside,” I replied.


Now, I know nothing about bobcats,

but thought I’d been told their paw prints,

along with bird poop, were found on the mirrors.

The Little Boy didn’t think bobcats could make the climb.

He knew more than me about bobcats’ grips and paws.

I said I’d check with a Tohono O’odham member,

since they live around here and might know.


Jaril was at the Visitor’s Center.

I asked if he thought I was wrong.

Speaking gently, he pronounced me right

about birds, but probably not about bobcats.



I saw The Little Boy before our last tour.

He was at the Plasma Machine Display, moving

his hand across its rosy stream of particles,

transforming them into white

lightning streaks.


I told him I’d been wrong

about the bobcats. They probably

couldn’t make the climb, But for sure

I was right about the birds.


The Little Boy smiled sheepishly,

and then, with the sweetest of shrugs,

he said,  “Maybe the birds

 carry the bobcats up.”


I’m not sure if he was kidding me,

but you wonder why I love kids so?

After the worst is over,

they’ll transform tomorrow.




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