Every neighborhood has one, that kid that always brings home the injured or stray animal.. That's what Louise Grider did growing up. Her main focus, birds. She has parlayed that interest into her own little piece of paradise, not only enjoying herself, but helping some of her feathered friends along the way.
Tucked away on 12 acres in Coffee County, one woman's little garden of Eden. "I was the kid that brought home all the birds that other kids brought the birds too." Thanks to her mother, "she grew up taking care of birds so she knew how to tell us how to take care of 'em.", Louise Grider has been taking care of birds ever since. But not just any bird. "I just kind of specialized in raptors. I've always just loved owls and hawks. Jingles, is a six month old great horned owl, "she's actually a pretty calm, laid back bird. Yes you are." she says in her best baby voice. And the star of Griders education program. Then there's Ar-tee, the red-tailed hawk. Frick and Frack the screech owls. Some fledglings she nursing back to health. All brought to her seriously injured or ill. Such is the story of Mother Goose. "Mother Goose was hit on the highway and she had a broken leg and a concussion and she was the first patient that i got this year." After recuperating she kind of adopted Louise and has become her personal bodyguard, sort of a watch goose. "She has decided that I am the greatest thing since sliced bread. So she is my protector she usually gets between me and anybody that's trying to talk to me and she'll try to drown us out if we're both talking." With all the comings and goings around here, Louise has become the ultimate empty-nester. "I like to get things independant and leave home. I like new things coming in and old things getting independent and leaving home." Do your boys know that? "I think they knew that I'd love to see them on visits but don't move back in.
Needless to say, birds have been a big part of her life. But along the way, they've taught her something too. "How amazingly strong the life fource can be. These birds can come back from absolutely nothing. They have got the strongest drive to live of anything I've ever seen in my life."
That inspiration, keeps her going.
In Coffee County, Debbie Williams and photojournalist Darren Gilley, somewhere out along County Road 12.