Sunday, June 29, 2008

Hope is a thing with feathers....

By Judi England

It all started in the first days of June. A few extra twigs appearing in my front door wreath. A quick glimpse of wings darting away from the house when someone approached. Within days the nest was finished - then came the eggs - first two - then another - then a few more - 5 in all. Small and fragile and absolutely beautiful. Not robin's egg or Tiffany's gift box blue, more subtle than those - with little flecks of brown. The Finches had selected us as landlords/trustees for their next family.

That's when the worry started.

That nest looked like a bit of a cob job - how would it support babies? The nest was on my front door - something that opened and closed pretty regularly. And the mailbox was there too. Every time there was human movement within a few feet Mom flew away. Our guess was this was a behavior designed to lure predators away. But we worried. Would she come back? Would too much activity make her abandon her quest for parenthood? If she did leave for good how would I live with the guilt?

But maybe the finches knew more than we gave them credit for.

It was actually a pretty good spot. One of those man-made/natural world interfaces that can serve both. The wreath was a very sturdy foundation. It backed up to glass so we could keep tabs from inside or outside the house. The roof overhang blocked rain, strong winds, and baking sun. Our huckleberry tree was busy making tons of fruit for easy pickens. There was a a bird bath and as homeowners we were a pretty quiet pair.

And so we waited and watched and ran interference. Like the time we had old furniture to move out and new furniture to move in. I made sure the door was opened only once, and held it steady lest we create a mini-omelette. Our mailman had already identified the nursery and offered to drop our daily delivery in another location. He's a "good egg".....

And we waited.

And then they arrived - a few at a time. Homely, reptilian looking little things with bluish skin and bright yellow beaks and a few springs of straggly looking stuff that bore no resemblance to feathers. How anything so small and vulnerable could survive was a mystery. We would do "baby bird patrol" each day to monitor the progress of our winged god-children. I remember one morning my guy noticed that the nest was very still - no open beaks, no wiggling around - still. I remember how sad that made me feel, how disappointed, as if a promised gift never materialized.


But they were fine, and spent the next couple of weeks growing up, getting cute, and preparing to leave. Finch parents and human occupants reached an unspoken understanding that close observation was OK a few times a day. How neat it was to see those tiny bright black eyes looking back at me. They grew these long tufted feathers over their eyes so they looked like little crazy mad scientists.


The nest was deconstructing itself more and more each day, almost as if it were timed to give added incentive for the first flight. I wondered if human parents whose offspring never seem to want to"leave the nest"could take a cue. We put a blanket under the nest just in case the first attempts didn't quite cut it.

So they've gone now..but not far. All seven come to the feeder in the backyard, like old friend dropping by for a visit. We are sort of thanking each other for the brief intimacy of our shared experience.

If you've read my other blogs you know I'm not a big fan of plane flights. But in my very best dreams I fly - solo - under my own power - coasting and gliding and looking down over the world. It is the most wonderful feeling of freedom.

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

I've heard it in the chilliest land
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me. -
Emily Dickinson -

Peace - Judi England, RN, LMT Kripalu Yoga Instructor, 6/29/08

P.S. If you want the right gear to attract birds to your home, go talk to the people at Backyard Birds (926 Troy-Schenectady Road, Latham, New York- Peter Harris Plaza). They are friendly, the shop is beautiful, and they know way more about birds that I ever will!

Writer Judi England is a massage therapist in Albany, New York. This piece appeared first on the Holistic Health site on the Albany Times Union blog page.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What a wonder! We should all have such a gift. Especially those of us with fledglings of our own about to take flight.