letting nature take its course

A couple of years ago, I wrote a post about a chickadee couple who came to reside in our blue bird house. (You can read about it here.)  While I was saddened that they weren’t blue birds, I was just grateful that a pair of fine feathered friends had graced us with their presence. Sadly, they were scared away right after building their nest and so we never witnessed the miracle of life with this family.

A couple of weeks ago, I happened to be home at lunch time.  As I strolled around the garden beds, I heard quite a commotion.  Over by the same blue bird home, I observed a male chickadee and a male blue bird swooping and diving around the wooden house.  The female birds waited cautiously in the trees but made no less noise.  I secretly rooted for the blue birds as I didn’t want them to be scared away from the farm, but I also felt drawn to letting Creation do her thing.

A week later, after we returned home from Spring Break, I peaked in the box.  Sure enough, the chickadees had won, and a mossy green nest waited patiently for its treasure.  A bit disappointed and a bit uncertain, I emailed a friend who is a blue bird aficionado and asked what to do.

He shared some advice:  remove the nest or put up another home.

After considering my options, I realized that I couldn’t bring myself to intervene and remove the chickadee’s cradle.  If these two creatures had been out in the wild, it wouldn’t be my choice but rather Creation’s, and who am I to fool with Mother Nature?!chickadee egg

Yesterday, when I arrived home on a sunny but cold Spring eve, I toured around the gardens to see if anything had died during the former night’s frost.  I eventually made my way ’round to the house and carefully peeked in.  Sure enough, the first new egg nestled down into the nest that Mama and Papa had lined with fibers and fur.


I can’t say that I was any less excited than I’d been to find the first blue bird egg last June.  I snapped a quick photo then carefully closed and locked the house.

As I strolled up the driveway, I realized that by letting Nature take its course, I would be witness to yet another miracle this early spring.  And it was no better or worse than having blue birds around–just different.

Sometimes, our expectations are not always met as we would like them to be, but that doesn’t mean the Universe is against us.  It simply means the path may look a little different on our journey–an opportunity for new perspective, new growth, or maybe just a rest.

And by the way, no worries for the blue birds.  I’ve hung a second house that I received for Christmas and know they will be just fine.


lessons learned: the willow

Last night, I stopped by the store to pick up a couple of things, and after a week filled with cracked windshields, missing legal documents and unexpected snow, I was pretty much done, and it was only Tuesday.

As a morale boost, I decided to treat myself to some flowers.  I meandered my way through the roses and orchids and lingered at the mums and daisies but nothing seemed to tickle my fancy until I caught eye of something I’d been longing for–willow.willow

When I was a child, my sister and I would walk down to Beaver Lake with my mother and watch from the edge as she stepped carefully in and around the marsh.  We would come home with cattails and willow, and Mom would fill vases with tall stalks of each–so simple yet so stunning.

My sister and I would sneak into the living room and pop off some of the fuzzy, round buds to rub between our fingers or on each others’ cheeks.  Their softness seemed to soothe in spite of their size.

I had not thought about willow until years later when I attended the Spring flower show in Philadelphia with my friend, Cheryl.  We watched as women literally grabbed handfuls of willow out of buckets and clutched it to their chests–perhaps, a treasure that offered them a bit of Spring hope in the midst of a dreary winter.  I longed to purchase some, but with travel back home, I was concerned my efforts would be in vain.

So as you can imagine, when I spied the bucket resting in the back of the floral area, my heart skipped a beat. I carefully selected two bunches and placed them proudly in my cart.  People around me selected bouquets of freshly picked, colorful flowers, and all I longed for was the simplicity and softness of my willow.

When I came to the check out counter, the gentleman assisting me began chatting about the stalks I’d selected.  He noted how easy it is to root it–just make a fresh cut, place it in a bucket, and ignore it.  We laughed about how people spend so much time and energy trying to care for plants or root cuttings with special formulas and specific science.  In harmony, we both stated, “Let Mother Nature do the work.”

On the way to the car, I pondered the two bunches in my hand.  I realized that I longed for my life to be more like that willow–simple and soft.  My conversation with the store manager reminded me that simplicity is attainable when we stop struggling with ourselves and allow our Creator to do the work.

lessons learned: dark and deadly trails

Last night on our evening walk as we rounded the bend of the nature trail, I asked my daughter, “Do you want to take the dark and deadly trail or turn around and travel back in the light?”  She laughed and asked, “Why do you call it ‘the dark and deadly trail?'”

I explained how that trail used to be inviting and sunny.  When she was a baby, the path had been recently cut, and bushes and trees had not taken root.  Over time, however, plants have grown up so tall that they create a tunnel effect.  The result is a section of trail that resembles a fairy tale.  Woodland animals live deep in the undergrowth, and at times, we hear noises we don’t recognize as birds or squirrels.  The light disappears and creates an eerie feeling, especially at dusk.  I will admit that sometimes if it’s just the dogs and me, we will jog that section to get through it faster, or turn around and go back the long way to remain on the sunny side. (They’re small dogs, people!.  They won’t be able to protect me.)

There’s something about that trail that personifies the darkness of human nature.  I realize that feeling may come to me because of one too many children’s stories with wolves or witches, but truly, it does.  While it is a nature path and is full of beautiful foliage and fauna, it also seems as if something lurks behind the green, a sense of darkness I do not understand nor one that I want to experience.  It is a bit unnerving.

In our lives, we encounter many dark and deadly trails–those that challenge us personally and those that challenge us culturally.  It is understandable that we wonder if we will make it out alive, or at least whole and in tact.

What I’m learning as I grow older, however, is that those times and situations help us define what is important to us, help us create a sense of connection with the bigger world, and help us feel more resolute about what it is we believe.  It is that kind of strength and determination that brings about change in this world; change that will make the world seem less “dark and deadly” for others.

And so, when my daughter looked at me last night and with gumption said, “The dark and deadly trail it is,” I followed her lead.  And we never looked back.