Nest Building, May 2019

This year I failed to take down our Christmas wreath on time. The usual punctuality of neighbors observing various themes of the year didn’t drive me into action as it often does. So while other people moved on to Valentine decor and then to Easter/spring colors, our Christmas wreath with a bold red ribbon remained firmly intact. Perhaps it signaled to neighbors that we were still waiting for Christmas or perhaps Christmas was so eventful that we were still floating on air.

Neither of those is true. The truth is that I became preoccupied with other things in life and simply forgot to remove the wreath.

i love how things work out because of, not in spite of, our neglect.

Before I knew it, spring was dancing around the edges and birds were checking out safe places to build their nests. A testy sparrow began flying directly between the hanging edges of the giant red ribbon on our wreath, scoping out the nest-worthiness of the balsam hideaway. My husband and I watched from the living room as two sparrows darted in and out of the wreath carrying twigs, leaves and other small grasses to their destination point.

We became more careful as we used the front door. I spoke to the mail carrier to call his attention to this small miracle. He was delighted to be in on the secret. I think he walked up the porch stairs more gently after that and certainly began to place, not drop, our mail into the metal box.

In mid April, I glanced sideways to make sure the parent birds weren’t home before pulling back the red curtain ever so slightly to review their progress. Lo and behold there were five small, blue eggs!

I knew at that moment that even if neighbors put pressure on us to discard the wreath, I would not bend to such action. This was now a matter of life or death. The wreath had become a nest; it was going to harbor new life. So what if it looked like we were out of step with the seasons.

In another few weeks, I took a peek and noticed little eyes looking directly back at me. Fledglings! They had hatched. The parents flew in and out, delivering worms and other goodies to their newly arrived brood.

We left town for ten days. When we got home, we immediately checked to see if the fledglings were still in the nest and they were. I got one final picture of them; they flew the coop the next day before we were ready to see them go. We were surprised and then thrilled that they had the courage to go for it! Hannah

Consider this poem by Kim Stafford called ‘Nest Filled’:

Use your whirling wings to find the right tree.

Use your pert eye to choose the level limb.

Use your nimble feet to cherish the hospitable fork.

Use your fearless beak to gather twigs, leaves,

grass and thistledown to weave your basket-house

open to the wuthering sky.

Use your body to be the tent over tender pebbles,

lopsided moons. then wait—warm, alert, still

through wind and rain, hawk-shadow, owl night.

Use your life to make life, spending all you have

on what comes after. And if you are human, a true

citizen, full awake, then learn from the sparrow

how to build a house, a village, a nation. Use instinct

to find the right place. Use thought to know the right

time. Use wisdom to design the right action.

In the era of stormy weather, build your

sturdy nest, and fill it with the future.

—Kim Stafford

The wreath nest, out of season but still very much with purpose. April, 2019

The wreath nest, out of season but still very much with purpose. April, 2019

The fledglings hatched and a few weeks later they wee ready for flight! May, 2019

The fledglings hatched and a few weeks later they wee ready for flight! May, 2019