Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Little Bird

We trimmed the palm tree out beside the vegetable garden and found a nest with one egg inside, perfectly preserved in a crevice near the trunk. The mother appeared to have abandoned it - driven away, I'm sure, by the awful noise and exposure. After hours of pleading, the girls were granted permission to adopt it, egg and all. This meant, of course, creating a new perch for the nest, on a chair beside the bed so that they could blow it kisses and make sure it was safe from Daddy - whom you never could trust when it came to eggs since he was liable to boil it and eat it for breakfast.

When I went in for the second time to kiss Evie goodnight I found her sitting up in bed, holding the bowl that held the nest in her two hands. She was examining it with such concentration I didn't have the heart to scold her. "Are you looking at your nest?" I asked finally. She looked up at me and nodded vigorously, and smiled her rueful, dragon-slaying smile: "It's im-pressive!" she exclaimed. I couldn't but be drawn into the mystery of the moment - and for several seconds we bent our heads down and studied the nest together quietly. I noticed that in addition to countless small twigs, the mother bird had salvaged some tiny uprooted carrots from our garden, and woven them into her nest. I had pulled them up weeks before and left them in a tattered pile beside the planter. Too small to use, I'd thought. But in fact the carrot tops - so long and leafy and green - were put to perfect use; and the tiny shriveled carrots brought a reassuring touch of color to the scheme.

I looked up at Evie, who was still studying the nest with care. "Evie," I said, "you're impressive. You know that?" She looked at me and laughed uproariously as if I had made the most unorthodox suggestion. "No, you're impressive!" she challenged. "Oh, alright," I said. "You win." And I knew with sudden irrevocable conviction that I had been outmatched.

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