As I carry in the groceries, I notice a flash of turquoise on the ground below the ugly tree I want to cut down. If it was later in spring, I would have missed it. The hosta leaves that grow here would swallow it. But the hostas are just shoots now. The contrasting blue against the drab ground cover grabs my attention, my eyes in constant search of beauty these days.
As I approach, I see it is crushed egg shell, and then instinctively look up. Where did it come from? That’s when I see the nest, spun from sticks and grass. A string of yarn winds through the sticks, much like the yarn Caroline used last month when she first learned to finger knit. Tall dead grass stalks peeking out look like the ones from my backyard I have yet to trim, too busy tending to the growing beings inside my own nest. And I’m certain those are my gray hairs in there.
On top of this carefully crafted home sits a mother robin. She is still, eyes blinking as we make eye contact. I whisper to Caroline, showing her my find. "She is sitting on her baby eggs!" Caroline coos. We watch the robin together. We whisper plans to look for the other babies to hatch, in awe of our witness of life.
The next day we check early in the morning, only to find the robin is gone. We listen for the tiny sounds of chirping birds but it is quiet. This nest is empty. "Maybe she is getting food for her babies," Caroline says.
It’s been a week now. She has not returned.
I wonder if there was just the one egg in her nest, the one that shattered on the ground. Was she in mourning that day we watched her, silent, still on her nest? Was it shock, grief over the loss of her baby? Or maybe her work was done. Maybe her baby was gone. Flown, onto a life of her own.
The nest still sits on that ugly tree. I see it every time I return home from a walk. Wound together, with bits of love from our home to theirs. Only, the tree doesn’t look quite as ugly to me as it once did. It’s a comfort now, a reminder to be a bit more grateful for the life that waits for me inside my own home.
If it wasn’t for that egg shell, I might not have noticed the nest.
If it wasn’t for death, I might not have seen the life.