It is an early spring morning, still somewhat cool and crisp, unusual for this time of year in the South. I sip my steaming black coffee while sitting in our little gazebo overlooking the pasture, the mountains looming tall behind me.
I love living on this land. There is nothing in my life that would have ever made me think I’d fall madly in love with living in a small, semi-rural Southern town on 20 acres of land, but it captivates me in ways I can’t explain.
Each year, after the last freeze of winter hits and the temps slowly being to inch upward, our land comes alive. The neon green of new leaves, the slow blossoming of the wildflowers, and the scattering of creatures all about fill me with a childlike giddiness and sense of wonder.
The deer graze off of the fallen pears, the rabbits run amok, teasing the dogs from behind their fence. There’s many a day when I feel like Snow White walking into the woods with all of her woodland friends landing lovingly around her. Even down to the bird perching on her finger….
As I snuggly hold my mug with one hand and pet the pup with the other, relishing the initiation of gazebo mornings for another year, I am captivated by a small but mightily loud wren perched on the fence post, doing what I can only imagine is the equivalent of swearing me out in bird-ese. She is not anxious, but rather determined. She is not going to leave. She is staking her claim to the gazebo in no uncertain terms. She impresses me, how she holds a beak full of twigs and yet simultaneously remains bravely vocal. I sit still, mesmerized. I’m kind of impressed with her moxie.
In a flash she swoops to the top of the gazebo rafters, drops the twigs, then looks at me. I’m not moving, I tell her. I had the gazebo first. I sip my coffee as a sign of laying down my gauntlet. She speaks to me loudly, but I’m stubborn. This is my special place and I’m not leaving. And no sassy bird can make me.
I sit as still as possible as she makes multiple, identical trips. She disappears for a moment, then perches back on the fence post to, with beak full of grass and twigs, give me a piece of her mind. I’m clearly cramping her style.
But she is fearless and headstrong. Trip after twiggy trip she comes back. Each time she whooshes close to my head as she enters and leaves the gazebo. Eventually it’s time for me to proceed with real life, so I bid her goodbye, letting her clearly know I’ll be back for coffee tomorrow and she has not won.
And so our mornings pass. Me in my jammies, pot of coffee in tow, and the busy wren, eventually named Priscilla, who decides she’ll just have to put up with me.
We have some negotiating to do, she and I. We both realize the gazebo is the most prized piece of real estate on the property, and neither wants to relinquish it. So Priscilla and I sink into an early morning camaraderie. She tweets and squawks and chirps at me, trying to sass me away from her domain as she systematically continues to build her tiny castle. I sip my coffee and chat with her, letting her know I’m going nowhere but I do respect her persistence.
Day after day, pot after steaming pot of coffee, twig after twig, we spend our mornings together. I give her little shout outs for her hard work, letting her know her stamina and determination are impressive. You go girl, you’re a rock star! You’re building a home, you’re building a life. You’ve got it going on!
And then I notice an ever so slight change. One morning she is no longer carrying twigs in her sassy beak, she is carrying grubs. And if I listen carefully enough, I can hear the faintest of tweets coming from the rafter. I smile and I maybe, just maybe, shed a tear. Motherhood is so sacred no matter what species we may be. I whisper a welcome to motherhood to my wren, and let her know she and I now have more than the gazebo in common.
Until now I have not violated our silent pact…to each respect the other’s space. I have resisted the urge to peek at her nest, and now with new life in it I’m even more respectful. But oh, how I want to see the babies! Is there anything in the world more magical than new life?
As each day passes, the chirps get louder, light feathers waft from the rafters to the gazebo floor, and Priscilla seems frazzled as she looks for bigger and meatier breakfast payloads. I tell her it’s ok, she’ll make it. I was a single mom, too, and I know it’s tough, but it’s worth it. I’m pretty sure she rolls her eyes at me as a grasshopper wriggles in her mouth.
Priscilla and I no longer just tolerate one another. There’s a bond. There’s a connection. We both belong. To the gazebo, to the farm, to the crazy sorority of motherhood. She now goes about her business without trying to warble me away, and I no longer feel as if I must stubbornly assert my authority as rightful owner of the gazebo. We are co-owners of this space and these mornings, sisters in womanhood.
I come back out after a long weekend away with my husband, and instantly sense a change. Priscilla is no longer swishing in and out past my head, from the rafters to the pasture. She is quietly calling to me as she sits in her nest. At first I’m worried that something happened to the babies, that she is protecting them from something.
And then I realize.
The nest is silent.
Just like that, the babies are grown and gone. She sits, alone, most likely wondering how it all went by so fast. One day you’re preparing a nursery, the next day you’re busy meeting a million little needs, and the very next day it’s over. She is likely sinking into the deep realization of how exhausting motherhood was, while also wishing for one more chance, just one more day, to be that tired.
For the first time I pull my chair over and stand on it to look at the masterpiece that is her home. She sits still as I peer into her dominion. Face to beak, I tell her, ever so quietly, she did her job well. And for one last time, we connect, as mothers, at the final stage of the journey, feeling the mixture of sadness and pride at how quickly and successfully our little loved ones flew away.