I was outside today and working around the yard on several projects that all seem to be running in parallel. Each task seems to have a prerequisite which needs to be satisfied which leads to some other thing that becomes a priority for one reason or another. One minute I am on the east fence pulling weeds and planning where to plant the spinach and the next I’m on the west wall of the house contemplating my summer wildflower garden. All at once I round the back corner to survey what might be required to fix the problem of the downspout digging a hole in my yard and decide instead to check on the Robbins who have made their home under my deck.
Back up to one day ago when I was also at it, that list of gardening stuff, when my Matt arrives and somehow we ended up playing catch with baseball and glove in the back yard. Nearing the end of that fun, I begged to introduce him to the Robbins with their three, maybe four babies who are growing leaps and bounds each day. When we approach they are quiet and still as if fear has turned them to stone, but I’ve heard them in the mornings when I’ve had the deck door open and they are squawking for their turn at whatever food Momma Robbin has brought. It feels like a very successful science experiment right in my own back yard, and I didn’t have to do a thing except not interfere in the process.
Back up to about 2 months ago when the Robbin’s decided to move in to a spacious, lofty one beam wide area nestled snug under the shelter of the main part of my deck. I could have discouraged this construction project like I did with the other home that was being built in the vent for my fireplace, but I decided to let this grow. Through the weeks the only interaction I had was when the grass started to get long and needed trimming. Mowing the back yard and under the deck caused Momma (or Daddy) Robbin fly to the nearest, safest fence or gutter perch where they watched me for the duration. At times, they too would squawk or fly right down close to my head and I felt like I was the one invading their space. I’d speak to them as if they could be reasoned with. “I understand you are just looking out for your babies. I’m a Momma too and I get it. I promise I’ll be done soon”. And then I kept my promise by leaving them alone and letting them continue with their turn at the circle.
We could back up to years and decades ago when I spent countless hours toiling over the big questions in life. What’s the meaning of it all? What happens when we die? What’s my purpose here? The answers, of course, remain unknown and yet I am able to come to the somewhat satisfying conclusion that the journey of life is what matters and the choices we make shape who we are and the affect we have on the world. In wanting to make the right choices, I often think about how my decisions will affect all of those connected to my circle. I try to be conscientious and kind. I want to be thoughtful and empathetic. I would like to think these ideals extend beyond the confines of human interaction – that the butterfly effect touches all of life. With that, it is not a big leap to connect the dots that led to my wanting to see the Robbin’s thrive.
And so tonight as I rounded the back corner of my house I felt a surge of happiness anticipating that “hello”. I wondered if Momma Robbin would be there and have to flee in an instant and what I might say to her this time. I thought about trying to get a better look in the nest to see if I could answer once and for all whether there were three or four babies. I even wondered how long it would be before they were ready to take off on their own, and then I saw it. The space between the support beam and the post was now empty. No nest, no Momma, no babies and my heart hurt.
I found the empty nest in the grass below the deck. Several feet away was a pile of soft, furry, baby bird feathers. Just feathers, no babies and as I surveyed a little closer there were more feathers scattered in the yard. All the thoughts I’d had moments ago melted away and were replaced by new ones. Were they able to fly? Are there any predators in the area that would snatch up a baby bird? And simply what happened? I was so moved by this sudden shift that I sat down in the grass and just let myself be overcome by the sadness. Tears welled up in my eyes and I found myself thinking deeply, once again, about the meaning of it all.
Circles and Science, Nature and Life.
Beginnings and Endings, Struggle and Strife.
Choices and Consequence, Decades and Days.
Weaved tightly together in mysterious ways.
I brought the nest inside and set it on my kitchen table next to a vase full of roses that are nearing their end. Another reminder that death is a part of life and that in natures simple circles, all beginnings have an end.