Our two fifty-years-plus sycamore trees were trying to reach the sky, so it was time to call our very talented arborist, Luz. When he and his assistant arrived, he surprised us by also checking out the blooming apricot tree. They ended up delicately pruning out deadwood and extra branches. When finished, the tree looked like an open hand, just the way it was supposed to. (While I love John, his few forays into pruning have looked more like amputations.)
Luz and his assistant then went out to the two completely dormant sycamore trees that had a gazillion crossing branches of all sizes. As excess wood was cut away, the bare bone of the trees became exposed. The men worked slowly, frequently assessing the structure of the trees. About a third of the way from the top of one sycamore, an abandoned bird nest was revealed. I wondered what kind of bird built the nest and was a little dismayed that we did not know it had been there. Then I went about my business.
I didn’t realize until the next day that Luz had not only spared the nest for possible future occupants, but he had left a cradle of branches for future avian homes—a place of safety for rearing the young. I smiled. How like him. A few years ago, he pruned another tree, leaving a quirky little branch for a hanging flower pot. Such caring . . .
Years ago, my ten-year-old niece Stella appeared at our door with a battered cardboard box. In the corner of the box, on an old piece of towel, was a very nervous injured house finch. John had been raised with birds, so it was natural that Stella came to him. I can still see Stella’s small grubby fingers cradling the small red-breasted bird as John gently cleansed its wounds.
The finch recovered but was unable to fly, and that is when the little bird literally became a house finch. Grace (my sister) and husband Gayle (Stella’s parents) adopted Reggie. Although he could not fly, he could maneuver around his cage. Reggie lived for many years and, when weather permitted, spent his days outside singing with the wild birds around him. One day, Grace saw a cat draped over Reggie’s cage. As she ran outside, the cat took off, but the sweet bird was lying motionless on the bottom of the cage. Before even one tear could escape, Reggie popped up and started singing. Who knew birds could play possum?
Over time, Reggie lost his red color, but he never lost his lovely song, a gift for those who had rescued him. Through the haze of memory, I can hear Reggie cheerfully singing in the dappled sunlight, accompanied by the wild birds and the rustling leaves.
One early spring day, I was looking out the window of our cabin in the Tahoe Forest. There was always some form of wildlife. It could be a black bear mama with cubs, ubiquitous Steller’s jays, or a few deer, but there was always something that would catch your eye. This day was no different. Right outside the picture window was a huge sugar-pine tree that had been limbed up about 15 feet. While I was watching a woodpecker drill a tree, something fell from the upper branches of the sugar-pine. This was followed by a rapidly descending chipmunk. Looking down, I saw a parent chipmunk join a youngster that was not moving.
I then witnessed one of the most remarkable things I have ever seen. After doing a quick assessment, the parent started turning the inert little form over and over, over and over, over and over. Was I witnessing a form of CPR? In a few minutes, the young chippie stirred and began to move. But Mama (or Papa) was having none of it. Grabbing Junior firmly in its mouth, the two disappeared up into the branches of the tree. I felt like I was privy to a miracle.
Isn’t nature wonder-full—as in, full of wonders? When we go through life with our eyes and hearts open, a whole new world can be revealed. And when we nurture the creatures around us, I feel we are at our very best and that the very air shimmers with blessings.