I live in a townhouse apartment in a convenient location and have artwork hung in every room. It is my haven, comfy and welcoming. The patio was a cold slab of concrete, and not at all to my liking. After laying down some outdoor carpeting, putting up a large canopy and setting up my outdoor furniture, I suddenly felt as though I had extended my home outward and created an area in which to escape the boredom of a typical apartment.
Proud of my accomplishment, I spend an inordinate amount of time there. I laugh at the squirrels who have never figured out how to scale my “squirrel-proof” birdfeeder, even though they do manage to shimmy up the shepherd’s hook that holds it, only to slide down unceremoniously to the ground. They finally leave after a few attempts, realizing that they had been outsmarted. I hope PETA never hears me laughing out loud at their futile attempts!
I read the paper, write and enjoy the birds literally fighting for a chance to perch on the feeder and pig out. In the spring, I marvel at the abundant trees and bushes around my patio as they spring into bloom.
Even the rain, unless torrential, doesn’t deter me from sitting under the canopy. I listen as the raindrops all around me pelt the fabric, a soothing attempt at continuing to escape into nature. It could be equated to the sound of rain falling on a tin roof but softer and gentler, although both are soothing and almost euphoric.
And then spring decided to drop in a bit early and with that, nature sped up its maturation process. The oriental tulips bloomed and dropped their worn petals. The squirrels were abundant and chasing one another in hopes of a tryst or two. And then something happened quite suddenly and unexpectedly.
Some tiny birds (species as yet unknown by me) made a decision to begin building a nest for their forthcoming eggs/chicks to call home. The caveat is that the location of the nest is right in the inside corner of my canopy.
What could I do? Should I abandon my daily down time outside so as not to disturb their important task, or continue to enjoy my time there and possibly deter them from such a diligent effort to create a home for their offspring? It was a daunting decision and one I was loathe to make.
As I sat in my kitchen watching them each morning gather twigs and fallen leaves to harbor their eggs and eventually their chicks, I was saddened. Not by nature’s wondrous ways unfolding before me, but by the fact my presence could make them cease their challenge and purpose to build this perfect home for their kinder.
I took daily photos of the growing nest, sheltered so well by the safety of my canopy. But what of the enjoyment I feel when I can sit outside and watch while spring unfolds around me? I was truly torn.
I tried to remind myself that all of these precious birds should know me by now after the bags and bags of bird seed I’ve afforded them all year. Is it possible they still didn’t recognize me? The nest grew by leaps and bounds each day and I decided not to break the cycle. Soon they would be ready to bring forth a new generation, feed the chicks and teach them how to leave the nest when it’s time. Hopefully, they learned how to fly and didn’t fall prey to the feral cats that roam the territory.
Annette K. Bonin of West Ashley is a freelance writer/humor essayist.