Saturday, February 6, 2016

Flying Away

I always have a nest or two of baby birds at my front door. I wait expectantly each spring to see who my new neighbors might be. A robin or a wren? Maybe a finch. No matter the breed. I catch a glimpse of the nest and count the eggs. I marvel the day the little birds hatch. 

I like watching the Mama bird hover nearby. She screeches in distress and flies about threateningly when humans linger too long by her nest. Though she is small and seemingly defenseless, she bravely protects her babies as she nurtures and prepares them for the world beyond my doorstep; as she prepares them for the gift of freedom.

Baby birds grow quickly. Within days they are flapping their wings, hopping around in their nest, readying themselves for what comes next. They know no fear. All too soon they take that inevitable leap of faith out of the safety of their nest, into my yard. They begin their new life. Mama bird has prepared them well. 

Over the years my doorway has provided the safe haven for many nests. I miss them when they leave. Like their Mama, I hope they will be safe.

As the February days grow steadily longer, I know it will soon be time for a new Mama bird to begin building her nest. As I think of this year's Mama bird, I am aware how I parallel her movements.

Most mothers got through the process of readying their young. It takes far more than weeks for humans of course. But whether it is weeks or years, the single-minded focus of a mother cuts across most species when it comes to preparing and protecting their young.

Like the Mama bird, I hover over Sam, trying to teach, prepare and ready him our eventual parting. Like the baby birds in the nest, Sam knows no fear. He has no worry of tomorrow. He bravely tackles each new endeavor. Like the Mama bird, I am aware of every threat. One day he will begin a life without me. 

Last year I saw the baby robins on their last day, teetering on the edge of the nest. I knew they were ready to go. I looked away for a moment and looked back in time to see the last one fly off. I watched a while hoping they might return, knowing they would not be back. This time, I cried for a moment knowing they were gone for good. I'd hoped for one more day. It is always hard the baby birds go. It will be far more difficult to let Sam go. Freedom, however, is a wonderful gift.

Experience tells me time is short. We have to be ready. There is more learning to be done. So like the Mama bird, I continue to hover near, hoping one day Sam, too, will be ready to fly while wishing he still might stay.