Monday, March 23, 2015

Choosing Your Nesting Site

Saturday night we had dinner with friends across town. Of course, we forgot to cover our outdoor furniture and lower the umbrella. It rained. Sunday morning, while letting our dogs out to pee, I placed the wet cushions on edge under the overhang to drip out before bringing them in to dry completely. I then folded the two chair covers, one each, over other chairs until I could replace the dried cushions back on their frames and cover them once more before more rain came.

Between Sunday morning and this morning, a Carolina Wren (the South Carolina state bird) had stuffed a substantial amount of twigs, leaves and pinestraw (pine needles) into the largest fold of one of the covers laying over a chair. I carefully lifted up the top half of the fold to make sure no birds or eggs were inside. There were none. Then I dumped the pile off to the side of our deck and put the covers back on the empty chair frames, and brought the damp cushions inside to dry completely.

As we sat drinking coffee in our sunroom, we watched as a little wren came back; beak full of soft material to add to its growing nest. My heart sank. The poor little bird looked so confused. I mimicked its little voice, "Wha, wha, where is my nest? I knew it was here. I'm not cazy. I left it right here!" Then she dropped her load and went to fetch her mate. When they both arrived, I said, "See, honey? It's gone! We left it right here. I know we did. We're not crazy, are we? It was right here and now it's gone!" The poor little birds kept coming back again and again to confirm all their hard work was not done in vane. But, alas, the nest really was gone, and they would have to find another sheltered spot to begin again.

Wren searching for its nest.
I thought in those moments of observing birdy frustration and confusion that there must be a lesson in here for us humans. Be careful where you build your nest. Make sure it is permanent and solid. Make sure it won't vanish in an instant while you're out buying building materials. We have been watching a subdivision grow just down the road from us. In one year, the area grew from a clear-cut acreage with one house under construction to this year with at least fifteen finished houses on site. How is it possible to construct so many solid, 2,400-4,000 square foot houses in one year?

We built one house in Rhode Island and did a complete renovation of our house here in South Carolina. Each one took an entire year to complete. Our contractor talked about the company building those houses, and about how cheaply they were made. It just goes to show you that once a house is built and looks solid, one never knows how well they are constructed underneath. You never know what's behind finished walls. I wouldn't want to buy there without doing some research, that's for sure.

Nothing is permanent. Nothing is secure. These facts are not depressing; just a fact of nature. Like the little birds that worked so hard to haul all that nesting material to a site they thought was the perfect place to build their home, we cannot ever know how safe our own homes are without watching their construction. Most times, it is not possible to build one's own home or tear it down and begin again. Sometimes, one has to just have faith that a choice made to hang your "Welcome" sign here or there is good enough...for now.

Maybe you'll find out it isn't a great place, while you're moving in. What then? Do you fret and scream? Probably. Or do you start looking for another spot to move in the rest of your belongings and begin again? Eventually...after lots of yelling and maybe a law suit. But, in the end, like the little wren, we must start over. Life is about do-overs. Like it or not. Life is about the ebb and flow, and the stop and go. We must move with the stream, lest we drown. Think "downstream" thoughts, and just keep moving with the flow. Be like the little wren: confirm the truth, then start over. Just do it, and don't waste too much time fretting over the process. Easier said than done, I know.