How Will YOU Tell The Story? Part II

 by Miko Johnston

In my last post I asked, How will we write about this? There has to be a moment when the reality of the new normal hits you in a unique way.

This is my moment:

May 20, before the tragedies we’ve witnessed in the past weeks occurred, when we focused on the pandemic and its effects on our health, our economy and our lives 24/7:

Mikos Garden1aIMG_1530After ordering restaurant take-out, my husband drove there to pick up dinner. It would take him almost an hour, leaving me time to explore a newly bloomed section of our garden, planted with rhododendrons. If you’re not familiar with the plant, they’re like azaleas on steroids, with flower clusters, some as big as your face, nestled against dark green leaves. Some grow as tall as trees; others have been pruned knee- or chest-high, their blossoms a riot of pinks, fuchsias, purples and reds.

Mikos Garden2In the shelter of the garden, hidden beneath a canopy of lavender and laurel trees, I sauntered the path that wends through the rhododendrons. As I neared the end of the path, where it rejoins the lawn, I spotted something crescent-shaped sparkling on a branch. A closer look revealed a young bird, judging by its downy feathers of gray, which blended in with the bark. She (as I later discovered) had a curved beak, bright yellow, which stood out like a slice of sunlight in the darkness of the overgrowth.

I think the bird spotted me but didn’t fly away; she seemed to accept my presence without fear. I froze and observed in silence as she returned her attention to her surroundings.

She stared at the bees hopping into flower melheads, gathering their pollen, and buzzing into the next blossom. At the sound and movement of the leaves whenever a breeze rustled them. At sunbeams that danced across branches overhead. At a pair of energetic bunnies as they frolicked on the lawn, oblivious to our presence. Many minutes passed.

Mikos Garden3IMG_1555I so wanted to hear her sing, but she didn’t. Silently she sat there, occasionally darting her head, watching everything around her as I watched her, delighting in her curiosity, her seeming amazement with the world she’d recently entered. She hadn’t mastered flying yet. Her wings fluttered to help her balance on the branches as she hopped along, taking in the sights and sounds all around her. I’d been feeling blue awhile, in a rut. All that changed with my encounter with this fledgling. I found myself transfixed by her utter joy, and that joy flowed through me for the first time in months.

Soon her mama showed up for feeding time. Mama didn’t take kindly to my presence, so I backed away and fetched my binoculars to watch her offspring from a non-threatening distance. I continued to observe her until hubby returned with dinner – fortunately, fish that night. My spirits revived, I left her and went inside to eat. Later I searched through my bird book for a picture to identify her. She resembled a female European starling, except the juveniles don’t have golden beaks.

*          *          *          *          *

Two days later, as I walked toward my rhodie garden, I noticed a rock centered on a bare spot in the lawn. Nothing unusual about that, but a tiny light stripe along the top made me look closer. I found the little bird’s body lying there, her once vibrant beak now a dull tan, and I broke down.

My husband took her away and buried her, noting she had a peck wound on her chest, likely from a crow. I cried uncontrollably, then berated myself for crying over a dead bird when the tears didn’t come for much bigger tragedies.  How could I be so shallow?

Was I, though?

That little bird reminded me of how quickly melancholy can turn to joy, and joy to sorrow. How the magnitude of what’s been happening to so many, for so long, can be hard to process. By wrangling it down to its essence, finding a small representative to a larger picture – a symbol – we can better grasp how it affects us, better articulate what it means to us. And isn’t that what writers do?

So now I can answer the question I posed in my last post.

What about you? Have you begun your story yet?



Miko Johnston is the author of the A Petal In The Wind Series, available through Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Miko lives on Whidbey Island in Washington. Contact her at






This article was posted for Miko Johnston by Jackie Houchin (Photojaq)






Author: Jackie Houchin

First, I am a believer in Jesus Christ, so my views and opinions are filtered through what God's Word says and I believe. I'm a wife, a mom, a grandma and now a great grandma. I write articles and reviews, and I dabble in short fiction. I enjoy living near the ocean, doing gardening (for beauty and food) and traveling - in other countries, if possible. My heart is for Christian missions, and I'm compiling a collections of Missionary Kids' stories to publish. (I also like kittens and cats and reading mysteries.)

24 thoughts on “How Will YOU Tell The Story? Part II”

  1. Miko, thank you from the heart, I am almost speechless with the beauty of your writing, how you observe what we often take for granted and turn it into magical writing. Nature at its best and worst.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you, Jill. Nature at its best and worst absolutely describe it, as well as what we’re experiencing now. The one bright spot for me is that this inspired me to write again, for the first time since the pandemic hit.


    1. Thank you, Madeline. I debated whether to post something sad at this time, but if it evokes a response like yours, it eases the sorrow.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. That is truly life with its comings and goings. The beauty and the sorrow. If we writers can communicate that to others so they, too, can see that we share these things, we are dong our job.


  4. A simple and profound post, exquisitely well-told. Thank you, Miko. So good to see your work again, however brief, since the times when I so enjoyed working with your fine series of novels. Is a fourth novel in Lala’s story forthcoming? I’ve often thought about it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Kitty. Yes, I’d tabled my fourth novel in the series until this incident. Now I’m rededicated to completing it and will let you know when it’s finished.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. How true, Gayle. The incident became my turning point and got me writing again. I know many authors who are struggling to focus on writing now. I hope this encourages them to get back to the computer (or notebook).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Linda. Sadness has become a daily part of our lives, but fortunately, it can inspire us to change or to action, as we’ve seen as well. For me, that means writing again.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. The others have said it, Miriam; beautiful. Beautiful writing, thoughts & expressions. I think we all are “suffering” emotionally during this crazy season, and perhaps don’t realize it. Your post revealed what we are all feeling one way or another… on the edge of anguished tears.

    And of course it reminded me of a couple Bible verses. Matthew 10:29-31 says,”Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father (knowing). But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.”

    Liked by 1 person

  7. So true, Jackie. Anguished tears – beautifully put. I’ve been so inspired by the kindness, generosity and fortitude I’ve seen during this challenging time. I, too wanted to do something helpful and personal. Hopefully I’ve achieved that.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Miko, thank you for sharing this moving experience. I’m keeping a tight grip on my feelings these days, but live on the edge of anguished tears. Reading your post took me closer to the edge.

    I love rhodies and have a huge one outside my kitchen window. Lots of azaleas as well.


    1. Thanks, Maggie. I believe we’re all living on the edge now. We never can tell what will tip us over.
      p.s. Your garden sounds lovely.


    1. Thanks, Alice. Uplifting and sad perfectly captures how many of us are feeling now. We marvel at the strength and noble sacrifices of people dealing with our new normal, and at the same time grieve the sorrow and losses.


  9. This is a lovely post, Miko, and such a fine example of how one small creature can symbolize so much.


    1. Thank you, Bonnie. That fledgeling captured my heart in an unexpected way and inspired me to write after a prolonged hiatus. I will always remember her for that.


  10. This ranks among your best work. Intrinsically relatable. The bittersweet nature of the moment is captured perfectly; its complex array of emotions speaks to the time we live in.


    1. Thank you, Juan. I’m flattered to have struck an emotional chord in our readers with my experience. Hopefully it will also inspire them to get back to writing, to think how ‘the time we live in’ will inform our work in the future.


  11. How beautifully written and how poignant. And how interesting that, out of all the angst that has been thrust upon us recently, you were given the time to see this ‘best and the worst’ of nature and you had the time to observe and record this moment so delicately. Thank you Miko.


  12. Thanks, Rosemary. I observe birds all the time, but I was drawn to that little fledgeling and watched her for almost an hour. After I discovered her fate, I needed an outlet to release the emotions and chose to write about my experience.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: