Some days I wonder if I should continue with this blog. Almost everything I have to say, I’ve said! Almost every moment I want to record has already been noted and written about. Last night we were on the deck, having a glass of wine before dinner (how many times have I said that?), and I saw activity at the nesting box on a nearby fir. It’s the box that was formerly in the nearby arbutus but we need to have some dead branches cut away from the arbutus and thought we’d move the box before nesting season. The boxes were built for violet-green swallows but they are the preferred home of the chestnut-backed chickadees, the ones I feed all winter and who come to my kitchen window on the mornings when their feeder is empty.
Anyway, activity. I know the couple nested in May and those young fledged. And the couple are nesting again. We’ve seen them going in and out. But the feeding has taken on a certain urgency and we know that the young are about to fledge. I thought it might be happening last evening because the parents darted in and out, then made a lot of noise from nearby trees. One young one was hanging out the opening, probably because it was so hot. I’d filled the nearby birdbath so the parents could take in water as well as food. Here’s the youngster waiting for its parents.
So the young wait at the opening, the parents work hard to keep them fed, and soon, maybe even today, those chicks will fly. We see it and then we see it again and it’s always astonishing. I wrote about it two years ago and I know I was thinking of my faraway children, and their children. This morning I am still thinking about them, anticipating the arrival of some of them this weekend and early next week. I don’t know if these particular chickadee parents are the same ones I watched in May of 2016 or if they’re long gone and these are the young they raised then, or later, or earlier. It all goes on. We go on. And what I wrote then in Mnemonic is still true:
How time passes, how everything we knew is stored in our own bodies — the dull ache of sleepless nights, the sharp yearning for love, the sorrow of these empty rooms once filled with children laughing, fighting; their books, their toys, their filthy socks, and tiny overalls. One boy still sits under the original nest box (though I know it’s not possible, he lives in Ottawa) with his notebook, trying to sketch the swallow nestling that hangs out the opening, saying, Don’t fall out, Parva! Be careful. And I stand out among the trees, under stars, while the moon thins and fattens, turns soft gold in autumn, hangs from the night’s velvet in February, draws me out on summer evenings to drink a glass of wine while owls fill the darkness with that question: Who cooks for you, who cooks for you-all? It was always me and I never once minded.