Morley Nelson & SYNCHRONICITY
The house for rent was in a great part of Boise, just where I wanted to live and start this next chapter. The address in the ad seemed easy enough to get to. We headed out. Kyle was with friends this weekend so I could look for a place back in Idaho. When we arrived at the address, the house looked uncomfortably lived in. Uncomfortable as in nobody was going anywhere anytime soon. ‘This can’t be it,” I said to Okie, “We must have the wrong address.” He checked it again, and said, “No, it’s the place.” We walked around the place best we could, and came to the same conclusion. It can’t be the place unless there’s another one out back out of view. We decided to wait for awhile in case someone came home.
The car pulled into the spot in front of us, and an older man got out. He glanced at us, and continued to the door. We were clearly in his parking space, with California tags on the car - never a welcoming experience in Idaho. My three month stint in California was soon over, and I couldn’t wait to get back to Idaho, pickups, and wide open rangeland. “Is this your house,?” I asked. “Yes.” “Is it for rent?” I replied. “No.” he said smiling, probably well aware how lived in it looked, or how awkward it would be to have renters move in. “It didn’t look like anyone was moving out,” I added, and asked him if he knew of any other places for rent in this neighborhood.
He told us he didn’t know, and that started a conversation that ended when dusk fell. Morley had lived here for half a century or more, and wouldn’t be moving because he had a sanctuary out back, behind his place. He asked if we’d like to see it. I wasn’t sure what he meant by a sanctuary, but my curiosity followed him. I’d already learned not to ask Idaho men too many questions at once, especially in fast succession, because their brains explode. The less words, the better.
We made our way past the narrow passageway of plywood walls on either side, and instead of seeing fountains and rolling grass which I somehow expected, there were cages. Cage after cage, lined up until they hit the open land. This was in the city limits of Boise. Each cage housed a different bird, sometimes more than one. There were Peregrines, Bald Eagles, Golden Eagles. Raptors everywhere. It was blowing my mind, and I couldn’t think fast enough. This man began telling us the story of how he’d developed this love affair with birds, and working passionately to save the Peregrine and Bald Eagle. HIs life’s goal was to see them off the endangered list.
Meanwhile, Okie, who was a man of few words, especially in the company of new people, was giving me a wide-eyed look like he desperately had to tell me something. He even tugged at my shirt a few times. I didn’t know how to politely turn my attention to him while the bird man was talking. Finally, when he retreated into a cage to retrieve a bird for us to see up close, Okie excitedly whispered in my ear, “That’s Morley Nelson! It’s Morley Nelson!” I think he said it four times. “So?” I responded, “Who’s he?”
It turns out Morley Nelson was one of Okie’s few childhood heroes. He’d grown up in the Boise suburbs, and Morley had been a bit of a folk legend. It stood to reason that Okie was drawn to him too, knowing Okie’s love for animals. He’d give his life for his animals, and had that innate connection few are gifted with. The kind of connection I don’t think he’d ever experienced with human beings, other than his daughter, Misti, and for a long time, me.
I loved him unconditionally. Beer breath and all. It was the kind of love that even loves the beer breath. If you’ve ever known that kind of love, you know what I’m talking about. It’s a familiar aroma, like the smell of your grandfather’s pipe. Comforting and unique to him. Sick, I know. But true, she says smiling remembering him with love and affection. It’s hard to forget a love like that. Even if he wouldn’t marry me. Or I him.