Tuesday, June 05, 2007


The ceiling fan offers a faint, repetitious hum; gentle percussion. Brad’s muted snore adds the melody and conditions are perfect for sleeping in. The sky outside is gray but bright and I force my feet to greet the cool of the floor beneath me. The day ahead is timed to the minute and I know that a jump start will be more beneficial than more time in my slumber.

Abby pushes herself up off of her lamb’s wool bed; her gray chin and slow rise for the day remind me that she is an old girl. She is love beyond understanding and loyal to the ritual of escorting me down the stairs no matter the time of day. She waits patiently at the back door to go outside while I start the coffee. The untainted, truly unconditional love of a dog sits in my thoughts and reminds me of a piece I had written in my head that had not yet made it to paper. I push the small silver button bringing the coffee pot to an awake state; five little clicks tell me it is beginning its magic.

The house if filled with morning quiet and I find myself humming the song I heard at Jennifer Lauck’s workshop. “Three little birds… sat on my window… and they told me I don’t have to worry… summer came like cinnamon… so sweet…” I reached for the slider door handle, Abby rising to her feet, and I quietly pull the door open to let the dog out and the day in. Sliding the screen shut, I see them up to my left; three little birds, sitting on my rooftop. I smile at them and ask if they came to tell me I don’t have to worry. I wonder if they are the babies that have been living in the nest behind the fascia boards. Mother bird flutters to the roof from above and now I am certain that these are the babies emerged from the nest. They are blackbirds.

“Slow down and take time for the details…” Cadence’s life lesson rings in my ears. I go back to the kitchen to pour my cup of coffee, cool handle and hot steam; the first sip slides warm in my throat. I return to the slider to enjoy the blackbirds. The babies look very much the same as the mother, but their voices have a baby luster and they stand together at the edge of the roof. Mama bird flies to a nearby tree top, setting an example for her brood. One baby hops to the very top of the roof and flutters back to her siblings, testing her wings. The three utter soft throaty sounds and proceed to groom their flight feathers. The brave one takes another walk up and flight down, mama swooping in from above. Mama hops to the lower roof to join the other two and then takes off in flight, landing on a distant telephone pole.

The brave baby takes a short flight and returns, while the other two explore more of the roof. They groom and chirp, hopping up and down, flapping warm-ups while finding the courage. Brave baby makes her way to a nearby tree and then returns. She is ready for adventure and sure of herself. A second baby begins to flutter from one part of the roof to another, exercising caution as he ventures further This baby takes the time to check all things before taking his leap. He walks up and down as if measuring the distance from the top to the bottom of the roof, calculating the odds of success. He grooms some more, double checking his flight equipment.

Abby stands patiently on the steps waiting to come back in. I slide the screen slowly so as not to disturb the babies, glancing at the clock on the wall. I resign to the fact that I must start the day and head for the shower.

Later, I come back to the slider to find that only one baby remains. He hops back and forth along the edge above the fascia boards that hide his nest. His head tips to the side as he looks below and I think he wants to be back inside. He does not possess the skill of the mother bird, who could swoop and slide into the tiny crack below. I wonder if she built her nest there with that intention; he has crossed the threshold and he cannot go back.

Mama bird sits on the telephone pole in the distance. She watches carefully, flies to the rooftop and back to the pole, beckoning her last baby to follow. The baby continues to eye the nest and groom his feathers, not yet ready for flight. Mother bird seems to possess the wisdom that her baby is not ready. She keeps her distance, knowing that she cannot fly for him and gives him the time to find his wings.

I leave the kitchen in order to rustle the slumber within my own nest. The day ahead is busy and my three need to wake.

The first part of the day is easy; Cadence has her dance showcase performance, the culmination of the year’s efforts on stage. Cadence is the brave bird. She is the youngest of my brood but the spirit of flight runs strong in her and her wings are ever-ready. She flies for the sake of flying, loving the wind beneath her wings and takes to the stage with ease and joy. She dances and flutters with beauty and grace.

Brad hands her roses at intermission and leaves to help Tyler who is bracing himself for his first stage performance in the battle of the bands on our town green. He is a talented musician, but he is new to this band and has never performed to a crowd. Although first born, he is the bird that hovers close to the nest; fearful of flight, not trusting his own wings.

Cadence and I race to the green after her performance ends to see that his band is next in line to perform. Trevor is there helping his brother with move amplifiers and guitar cases. Trevor is my middle child, the careful bird; steady, reliable and I am happy to see him standing by with support. I see Tyler’s demeanor, the pacing and the guzzling of water. I know that in similar situations, fear has overtaken him filling him with panic.

My own anxiety heightens as I make a wide circle around the stage and settle on my perch in the distance. With the wisdom of mother blackbird, I sit back at wait for him to find his wings. I cannot keep him in the nest; I cannot fly for him.

I wait and trust.

The time comes and he clings to his water bottle, repeatedly sipping away at the nerves. The music begins and he holds the microphone, soft throaty sounds at first. I watch tensely from my perch as his wings spread and watch with joy as he takes flight. He soars with ease, music pounding around him and I settle back on my perch, grateful and relieved.

Returning home at the end of the day, I hurry to the slider door and look on the rooftop. All three babies are gone. Mother bird’s job is done. I see her sitting on the telephone pole, no doubt filled with gratitude and relief. I smile at her. “I know you’ll find yourself someday, somehow…” she sings.

I shut the slider door tightly and snap shut the lock, closing the day. The weekend was full of lessons where I least expected to find them. Wisdom is all around us, sometimes channeling through the least likely teachers. Much can be learned from eight-year-old girls and blackbirds, if we are open to the teaching.


Carrie Wilson Link said...

Gorgeous, yummy, on-the-body writing, Nancy. I am so proud of you, and loving every word.

kario said...

Wow! This is amazing writing. I felt the sense of peace and openness coming straight off the page.