|There are signs of new life in the empty nest. For one thing, Ally has blown back in for the summer from a year teaching abroad in Spain. We don’t see much of her, but we can follow the debris trail all around the house to know that she’s alive and well.
The mess is even more apparent on our back deck. Dead grass, strands of shredded bark, an overturned container of old clippings. I can’t blame Ally, since this particular untidiness preceded her arrival. Has it really been so long since I’ve taken a broom to the redwood planks? Perhaps there’s been a localized wind storm. Or the neighbor’s cats, not content to merely pee on the plants and dig in the mulch, are upping their antisocial game.
My husband solves the mystery when he tries to spend some time in the hammock with a good book. After just a few minutes, he’s back inside, squawks of distress audible through the sliding glass door.
“I don’t want to give these poor birds a heart attack,” Jonathan says, pointing up. “Look!”
There, atop the drainpipe just under the wide eaves, inches from our kitchen door, sits a nest. It’s rather free-form and sloppy, but in a charming way–much like Ally’s bedroom. If we very quietly peek from the kitchen, we can spy the roosting bird’s beady eyes. If we’re careless, and go out this door to water the plants, cacophony ensues as the parents defend their territory. I’m not sure these birds have made the smartest choice, given the cats and their unconscientious landlords. But they do have a good view of the garden, which counts for a lot when contemplating a long confinement tending to children.
The birds may not have assessed the cat thing correctly, but I suspect they chose to squat on our deck because they are wise to our non-barbecuing ways. Perhaps they scoped out the antiquated model of our charcoal grill (Weber circa 1986), the thickness of the cobwebs covering it. They probably even lined the nest with some of the gauzy strands.
I guess we won’t be barbecuing for a while. I’m happy for the excuse in the same way that I appreciate droughts for making our failure to wash our cars look noble instead of derelict. I’m less happy about not using our deck or opening the door from the kitchen, but my mother-in-law assures me that it’s only for a few weeks. At least it saves me the trouble of putting out new yellow jacket traps.
The garden we put in last year has survived hard freezes, drought, deer, and my ineptitude as a novice gardener. Now it will have to survive neglect so the nursery can thrive.
But these things, like Ally’s unwashed dishes, are small nuisances. What a pleasure it is to welcome new occupants to the nest!
Lorrie Goldin is a psychotherapist in the San Francisco Bay Area and blogs regularly at Shrinkrapped.