Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Feathering the Nest

Back in the Spring, just after I'd planted the herb garden, peppers and tomatoes, I watched as two Eastern Blue Birds embarked on a search for the perfect nest. Unfortunately, the "perfect" spot for them was not the perfect spot as far as I was concerned. Of all the real estate available to them, the only thing that would do was my topsy turvy tomato planter. As I watched from my window they poked around in the hole at the top of planter and undoubtedly discussed the best options for their impending arrivals - anywhere from 3 to 7 eggs. Would there be enough room? Is it safe?

And while I knew I could not allow them to build their nest in my planter, lest my roma tomatoes be lost, or worse, the rain poured in on the poor little eggs until they floated right to the top, the irony of the situation was not lost on me. At the time I was about 4 months into my own pregnancy and I knew the importance of the perfect nest. In fact, I was anxious to begin feathering my own.

But, in what I thought was in the best interest of the birds, I decided to deter them from building their nest in my tomato planter with one of my child's fake snakes. I placed the snake in the top of the planter letting him stick out enough for the birds to see. I reasoned this would scare them away and they'd find a new, even better, location. Really, I should know better than to question an animal's intelligence.

Not only were they NOT afraid but they were completely undeterred. Mr. Bird repeatedly pecked at the "snake" until he'd moved him out of the hole and immediately hopped back in. Not satisfied, Mr. Bird would occasionally hop back out of the hole and begin to peck at the snake some more. Eventually, the snake dropped to the ground in total defeat and Mr. Bird was happy.

Mrs. Bird was always nearby looking on in approval and occasionally hopping down to take a closer look. She too was completely unafraid. Somehow I imagine these two birds had a conversation about MY intelligence....or lack thereof.

'Did she really think we wouldn't know it was rubber??'

We played this game for months. Me picking the snake back up and placing it in the hole only to find it laying on the ground the next time I looked. Finally, in a last ditch effort to save my tomatoes, and these birds from themselves, I placed a cup in the hole so they could not get in. Because our little game had taken up so much time, they hadn't had a chance to begin building their nest and once I placed that cup in the hole I didn't see my little friends anymore and that made me sad. I missed seeing them each day and I wondered where they'd gone and if their new place made them as happy. One day a storm came and blew the cup out of the planter hole. I didn't realize it until the next day when I discovered the happy couple was back trying to build their little nest in my tomatoes again. It broke my heart. I could not imagine how they'd managed to hold off for months and wait for that perfect place to be available again but I certainly understood why it was so important. (And yes I'm certain it was the same two birds. Don't ask me how I know, I just do!)

I immediately called my husband and told him he had to go by the store and pick up a birdhouse on the way home. As soon as he got home we switched the planter to a new location and put the new little home in its place. I anxiously waited to see if they'd like their new option. I didn't have to wait long. That day, and every day since, I see these two feathering their nest. Lately it's just Mr. Bird I see. Flying back and forth with groceries for the Mrs. I know that some day soon we'll be rewarded with the sight of new baby birds. And while the search for the perfect nest may not have gone the way they had planned, I know that they are happy.

It has been amazing to watch this little scenario play out in my backyard while something very similar was going on inside. Just last week we learned that our new arrival would be coming much sooner than expected (Sept 20th). The same complication, low amniotic fluid, that I endured during my first pregnancy, was inexplicably happening again and once it's too low the baby will need to be born. I had already been in nesting mode and now I was in overdrive, in a near panic that things would not be perfect in time for his arrival. And one of the first things I thought of were those two birds who patiently waited for the right time, for the perfect nest. And so I began to feather the perfect nest for baby Paxton.

Dear Paxton,

Inside we've painted you the perfect chest of drawers. A treasure we found that someone else was throwing away. Something we'd looked and looked for and then one day it was just there. Perfect.

Daddy built you a bookshelf, just like big brother's. And big brother has shared some of his books with you. Perfect.

All of your clothes are washed and waiting for you to wear. There's a spot for everything. Perfect.

Mommy insisted on getting you an organic mattress and when it was on order and hadn't come when we thought you were going to, Mommy panicked, just a little. It came the next day. Perfect.

These are treasures from family that you'll never get to meet: a great aunt, a great-great aunt and your grandma, but they'll be here to love you just the same.

And when Mommy went back to the doctor and found out you got to stay in a little while longer she found comfort in knowing she could complete some last minute "feathering". Perfect.

And tonight, as Mommy sits here knowing that tomorrow might the last day you'll be in the one nest that truly is perfect, the one that God made, she rejoices in knowing that while the search for the perfect nest didn't go exactly according to plan, she knows you'll be happy. And that's what makes it truly perfect.

** A note about Eastern Blue Birds:
This shy, unobtrusive visitor has become a rare sight in most gardens around the country. Bright blue outer feathers will catch your eye and then your will notice a red breast. Take a long look at this Blue Bird because you may not see another during the entire season. Go figure!


  1. Hi Jamie!
    Loved reading your story.

    I bet you all can't wait to meet Paxton.

    Many blessings to you and your family and wishing you a smooth delivery.

    Take care!

  2. Just a lovely post, Jamie. really enjoyed reading about all the things you've done to get ready for your new little one.

    Hope everything goes well for all of you, and you'll share more words and photos soon.


  3. Oh my gosh....what a moving story!

    What an eloquent tale of 2 families and the driving need to provide the very best for them.

    I loved it!

  4. What a beautiful bird... wish we had those down in Texas!

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