When my husband and I moved to Arizona from the East Coast in 1995, I was horrified to discover the popular practice of ‘dove hunting season.’
These small, grey and gentle birds with the distinctive call are known as mourning doves. To be perfectly honest, I never knew if they were ‘morning’ or ‘mourning,’ but to me they will always be ‘mourning.’
They were literally a voice from my childhood. As a child I would spend nights with my grandparents. I would climb out of bed early in the morning and hear the dove calls through the open windows. Grandma’s yard backed up to the Church cemetery, where my Uncle was buried and his gravesite could be seen from the house. That is where the doves lived.
Since then I’ve always associated these birds with reverence and peace, and to a lonely child and perhaps even to my Uncle, companionship.
How was I to know that in the American Southwest, many other parts of the U.S. and the world, they were used as living targets?! I refuse to relinquish my benevolent childhood memory.