There is a deck that runs around the upper level at the back of my home. The view faces the Cobus, Horse Stable, and the Catamount, and Panther Mountains. It’s a nice view. I think you would like it.
The seasons here change in a way like I have never seen before. The change in color between seasons happens exceptionally quick. Spring begins and then within a blink, everything returns to green. This is life.
My home is modest. It is not too big or too small. I have a decent sized lot with more than an acre of land. I have a wooded section to my property and then a nice lawn that rolls downward from the front of my property to the back. This is a contemporary home and built like the old ski chalets that went up years ago.
My house is built on a hill, which means with the land rolling downwards, the back of my home at ground level is very different from the front. The front has an entryway that opens up into a vaulted ceiling. Straight ahead are the sliding doors that lead to the deck at the back, which is above the slope and high over the ground.
There is a small table and some patio furniture on the deck. There is a smoker that I use from time to time. I have not learned to master the smoker yet, but I try. As a matter of fact, I’ve been responsible for pulling off a few good meals in the smoker.
The barbecue is a stainless steel job. It works well—or at least well enough. In full disclosure, I am not a barbecue expert by any means. I do not speak barbecue nor do I know all the terms. If anything, I am simple. Put the meat on the grill. Cook it. Take it off. Eat it.
There are those however, that live by their grilling expertise. They know how to work the flames and how to adjust the temperatures to a perfect level. And they talk their “grill talk” and they talk about grilling recipes. Safe to say, I am not one of those people.
The cover to my grill was ripped up somehow, which left my grill uncovered for quite some time. The idea to clean the grill and make it season-ready came to me last week. I rolled open the top to see what needed to be cleaned and there it was, the biggest sparrow’s nest I have ever seen in my life.
This was no ordinary nest. This was a condominium, complete with different bedrooms and living rooms and a room for the eggs, which had already hatched. I could hear the little chirping of baby sparrows chirping away.
Some might say this is my fault. Some might argue that I should have taken better care of my grill. Some might tell me that my deck needs to be painted again, which is not to say that my deck doesn’t look nice. But I get it. There are things that need my attention. I have a to-do list but more importantly, and for the benefit of my story, as of yesterday, I had a small family of sparrows, living in the most elaborate bird’s nest I have ever seen before.
I could hear the chicks. The sound of their chirping grew louder as the chicks grew bigger. I never opened the top of the grill again. I never wanted to disturb the family. Although it would have been nice to use the barbecue, there was something special about to take place.
Yesterday was Mother’s Day.
The chicks emerged from the nest for the first time. They were hopping around on the back deck. Chirping and prancing around, nice and proud, and ready to take on the world. The little sparrows were happy little balls of feathers. And when the time came, the little sparrows took their first leap and flew away in front of their Mom and Dad. Afterwards, none of the sparrows came back, which means, safe to say, I can have my grill back now.
I admit that my green thumb is not so green. I admit that my schedule makes it tough for me to do a lot of the chores around the house. I admit that I should have covered the grill but more than that—I admit that what I saw yesterday was both beautiful and sad, and memorable as well.
I admit that what I saw yesterday was not only poignant and moving; this was also the beauty of nature but more, there was something poetic and significant to this for me. I checked the nest this morning at around 5:00am. The birds have all flown away to parts unknown.
I thought about Robert Fulghum yesterday and his book, All I Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten. I thought about a story of his when he found a cicada bug trying to hatch from its ugly brown shell. These bugs are the chattering ones that give the unmistakable sound effects to summer. Fulghum wrote how he saw the bug on his porch. The cicada was struggling to make its way out. Being the man he is, Fulghum helped the little guy out of its shell. This way the bug could sit in the sun, let its wings dry, and then fly off to parts unknown.
Unfortunately for the bug and in spite of Fulghum’s best efforts, a sparrow flew down and ate the cicada. Fulghum wondered why the bug did not fly away.
Later on, Fulghum learned that the struggle for the cicada to get out of its shell is necessary for the bug to gain strength in its wings. Since the process changed, the bug lacked the strength it needed to fly away.
Struggle is necessary in life. Not everything will happen the way we want. There will be heartbreak. There will be tragedy. In our case, there will be times of sickness (like now, for example). There will be natural disasters and man-made tragedies. There will be deaths that range beyond the spectrum of usual life and death. There will be chapters that close and new ones to begin. There will be the new versions of old and there will always be spring, which is nature’s time to rejuvenate the world and start all over.
I thought one of the sparrows was hurt when it tried to fly. I ran down and out back to see if the tiny bird was okay. It tweeted and it chirped. I knelt down to see it. I wanted to save it. I wanted to bring it back to the nest up on the deck. I don’t need the grill so much. The little bird could have stayed. Then I thought about Fulghum. I thought about the natural order in life. I thought about Moms and Dads and how we live. I thought about the way we are as a society and the rights we have to live life in our own way. As silly as this sounds and laugh at me if you choose, but I took this in, introspectively, and I related this to my life and the things which I face right now.
I decided to let the little bird struggle. I figured I’d check back. If the bird was still there, then I would try and help.
An hour later, I returned and the bird was gone. My hope is the bird is well. I know it was tough at first but my hope is the bird knows how to fly and is able to fly away from danger. My interpretation was simple; struggles are not forever. Eventually, we grow strong enough to spread our wings and fly. This is life.
I was talking to mom yesterday. These conversations are not over the phone anymore. This is more like prayer. I had asked her for a sign. And I’m not sure if this was it. It could have been a sign or then again, this could just be nature. Either way, I saw something beautiful yesterday.
I’ll have to clean the grill now. Or maybe not just yet. I’ll have to get another cover too. Or maybe not.
Here I am, trying to be the tough guy in life. And the truth is I’m not very tough at all. I’m thinking about a stupid little family of birds and how fitting it was for all this to happen on Mother’s Day.
By the way . . .
When I was a boy, Mom used to tell me things when she wanted to make me feel better. I’d be sad and Mom would tell me some news to make me happy. And I’d ask her, “How do you know?”
Mom would always say, “A little birdie told me.”
Maybe the little bird was a sign.
I couldn’t tell anybody else about this. I couldn’t tell my friends. I couldn’t tell anyone at work either. They would all look at me like I was crazy. And maybe I am crazy (to them anyway).
But not to you.
You get me . . .