A part of my duties as a reporter is attending an assortment of meetings. While all of these municipal and county gatherings are open to the public, generally I'm the only member of the public in attendance.

A part of my duties as a reporter is attending an assortment of meetings. While all of these municipal and county gatherings are open to the public, generally I'm the only member of the public in attendance.

Being the lone spectator can have its advantages. On more than one occasion meeting participants have forgotten I was there and have started spewing comments that they likely wouldn't have had there been a room full of people in attendance. Such outbursts, if the speaker even remembers a member of the media is present with multiple pens and a blank notepad, are generally followed by a red-faced assertion that what they had just said was intended to be “off the record.”

Possibly the least controversial group whose meetings I cover is the Tree Board. Its focus is not just on the planting of new trees, but on the removal of dead or dying trees on city property that represent a hazard.

My barometer regarding whether a meeting has been worth my time is if at least one story results from having covered it. Last Wednesday morning's Tree Board meeting not only provided a potential story idea, but a “What's Going On?” feature.

A “What's Going On?” can be difficult to find on a rainy day, such as what last Wednesday was forecast to be. But with only a drizzle falling, a hardy band of Tree Board members adjourned their meeting around 9 a.m. and headed to North Main Street to perform tree maintenance.

I had no trouble finding the group working in the 200 block of North Main and was snapping pictures of them as they removed old mulch when one of them motioned me over. She pointed to the center of the tree around which they had been working. There, taking in all the activity, was a mourning dove that was seated on a nest built in a fork of the tree.

Understandably the dove sat in total silence and motionless as her dark eyes took in the humans' activity that was taking place beneath her nesting site.

I kept waiting for the dove, whose nest was less than 6 feet off the ground, to realize she had been spotted and abandon her nest at least until the annoying humans had moved on to another tree down the block. But she never moved a feather.

Even when I raised my camera to take some photos of the momma dove from a few feet away, she didn't bat an eye.

Her devotion to her family was impressive.

A few days later, I caught up with another devoted mother, my wife, Nancy. As we were walking into the Mabee Sports Complex, where our youngest daughter, Anna, was about to graduate from Hannibal-LaGrange University, I gently grabbed her right arm, pulled her close and whispered into her ear a single word, “Congratulations.”

Intent on getting inside and saving enough seats to accommodate the friends and family who were planning to attend the commencement, Nancy gave me one of her patented what-are-you-talking-about looks that I've grown accustomed to over the past 41 years. I explained that Anna likely wouldn't be where she was without Nancy's love, sacrifices and devotion.

The same can obviously be said of countless other moms who are currently in the process of investing their blood, sweat and tears to raise their kids right. It also applies to mothers whose own “nest” may now be empty, but who still play a key support role for their grown offspring.

Whether the mom is sitting on a nest in a tree in downtown Hannibal, or in an emergency room waiting for an injured child to be stitched up, motherhood is not for the faint of heart. The most successful mothers are those whose “feathers” won't be ruffled, regardless of what life throws at them and their family.

The views expressed in this column are not necessarily those of the Courier-Post.