Birds, Bees and Blogging

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We are part of the whole which we call the universe, but it is an optical delusion of our mind that we think we are separate. This separateness is like a prison for us. Our job is to widen the circle of compassion so we feel connected to all people and all situations. ~ Albert Einstein

Before I created my blog, I was a hermit bee, living, not in a hive, but in my own cosy wee writing cave, emerging to buzz away happily in other people’s blogs, reading, writing guest posts and cross-pollinating for pleasure in their comment boxes. All the writing honey from my life and my daily detail loving was saved for my coaching column.

When I wasn’t writing, every moment was a chance to gather nectar, the essence of moments spent in my home and garden.

I spent more time watching the birds outside my kitchen window, nature’s bloggers, living and foraging side by side: blue tits and chaffinches sharing the bird feeder happily; gangs of starlings swooping in and squawking loudly, chasing off other birds and swiping all the berry-filled fat, leaving nothing for the smaller birds; dunnocks hopping about in the bushes, silently feeding on the scraps left after the flapping frays, and the serene robin, sure of his territory, sitting on my fence, bobbing his head three times, choot choot choot, doing his business, planting the seeds of trees and bushes that will shelter his offspring someday.

March came and went in a flurry of blog-building, jury duty, illness, kids’ activities and shopping for my eighty five year old dad. I missed birthdays and deadlines, unaware that the weeks were flying by.

April and May settled into routines of burned meals, overflowing ironing baskets and piles of dirty washing.

Wet clothes were eventually dragged unceremoniously from the washing machine and dumped into the dryer. I no longer stuck my face into piles of damp line-dried laundry smelling of flowers and fresh air.

It reminded me of the first time I went for Step 2 of the IAC exam, obsessed and blinkered, neglecting all the other areas of my life. It came as no surprise that I failed first time.

But still I blogged, driven by the urge to create a community, to do something with my writing, to reach out beyond my garden and share more of myself.

I kept thinking, I’d settle into a blogging routine, but never for one moment did I realise that I was becoming worn out and weary right at the start of my journey, a journey I’d hoped to savour and share with all kinds of travelling companions for years to come.

My husband had a day off work last week and we planned to catch up on some neglected gardening. He went to run a bath in the family bathroom after the kids went to school and I found myself heading furtively towards the laptop, thinking I’d just do a quick ten minutes, when suddenly he bounded into the room.

“You’ll never guess what we’ve got on the window ledge outside the bathroom!”

“What?”

“A nest! With eggs! Four eggs!”

He sounded just like our young son.

We both crept to the back door like a couple of teenagers getting home late, wondering what lunacy had possessed a bird to build a nest next to our garden path, outside a family bathroom where our kids squabble loudly about everything from toilet paper to toothpaste.

We opened the heavy wooden door slowly and took a step out, as quietly as we could. And there she was. A blackbird, with a thin, sharp yellow beak and beady black eye. Aware of us, she didn’t move.

I sneaked in for my camera and stealthily captured the moment, scared that if we stood staring too long in awe at the magic of this little scene, that she’d get spooked and fly off.

The kids came home from school and couldn’t believe it, smiles wild and full of wonder.

That evening, while they were out with my husband, I started to worry. What if the wind blew the nest off the ledge, if cats came prowling, if a sudden noise from inside the bathroom spooked her. I felt I needed to do something, to help in some way, so I got some bread crumbs, opened the back door and gently scattered them on the ground in her direction. With a startled cheep and a flap, she flew off.

Horrified, I closed the door and stood, cursing myself for interfering, for having my own agenda, for doing too much and not letting things take their natural course.

For hours I was too scared to look. My husband and kids came home, asking if she was still there.

“I scared her off,”  I said, sadly. “I tried to feed her.”

“She’ll be back,” said my daughter. “She did choose us.”

“Yes,” said my son. “It’s a good place. Sheltered, and bricks absorb heat. She’s clever. She’ll be back. She knows we wouldn’t hurt her.”

I couldn’t bear to look. The hours passed and I couldn’t settle to anything. All I could think about were the little eggs, neglected, getting cold, because I’d overdone it. As usual.

My husband came into the living room smiling.

“She’s back. And there’s this little pile of crumbs next to her. It looks like she’s tried to spell out thanks.”

I threw a cushion at him as the kids teased me, asking if we should put worms on the shopping list and start a university fund.

I gently opened our back door and looked towards the bathroom ledge. As she sat there, her brown feathered body filling out the nest, she turned to me and fixed me with a beady eye. I pulled the back door shut, ever so quietly, and came back inside, smiling, trusting that everything would be OK.  Sometimes, we just need to sit still and do nothing but be.

Epilogue:

The father showed up, and together they raised four healthy chicks.

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This post originally appeared in my Coaching Moments column in VOICE, the monthly newsletter of the International Association of Coaching, edited by Linda Dessau.

15 thoughts on “Birds, Bees and Blogging

  1. Hi Janice,

    I am so happy that you included pictures too. That is a very good omen to have a bird build its nest at your home. Very good karma! Yay for you! 🙂

    At our place, we have a rabbit who lives in the bushes under our window and it is such a joy to see. We also have ducks that wander around and I just love to watch them. Something about animals brings me joy and a sense of peace and understanding of the world.

    I used to joke that animals are so much easier to deal with than humans because their needs are so basic: feed me, pet me and leave me alone.

    Have a fantastic weekend! 🙂

    Nadia – Happy Lotus´s last blog post..The Age of We Explained

  2. Janice, you always do such a fantastic job of relating nature to our daily lives,and this was no exception! I was totally mesmerized by your description of the birds in your third paragraph. (They reminded me of commenters on some blogs!) Then the tale of how your family reacted to the nest was precious. I especially loved how you went out and spread the bread crumbs. I would have done exactly the same thing! The beautiful photos are just the cherry on top of the cupcake. ( I’ve frequently wanted to Stumble some of your posts but couldn’t figure out how to do it, so today I took the time and did it! It wasn’t that hard-duh!)

  3. I agree with Randi, you have a knack for relating all things blogging to nature and it’s beautiful to read.

    Great eye for photography as well, that last shot of the bird on the fence is outstanding.

    I’m going to Stumble this as well.

    Marc´s last blog post..Giving Up Perfectionism

  4. Hi Janice
    It was great to meet up with you again this morning. I was so glad you spoke. Isn’t it often the case that when you see someone after a time that it’s sometimes difficult to know whether to stop and speak or not, or is it just me? Anyway, enjoyed reading all the articles in your blog. We all need to read feelgood stories and not dwell on the negativity that is all around and too easy to absorb. It’s given me a shot of sunshine on this rather dreary Monday morning.

    Have subscribed to receive new blogs when you post them and look forward to reading them.
    Best wishes. Raylene

  5. Thanks everyone! Sorry I didn’t reply straight away but I’ve been in bed with flu since Friday. I’m so grateful that you took the time to read this one; it’s the kind of ‘coachwriting’ I enjoy most. And you’re all very kind for not pointing out the huge cut and paste mistake in the first paragraph! I noticed it as soon as I logged on. (I wasn’t very chirpy or ‘with it’ on friday.)

    @Nadia,
    An especially big ‘sorry’ to you, Nadia. Your comment sat there and waited for approval all weekend. Your comments still get stuck in moderation and I’ve no idea why. (Any ideas, Marc?) You’re right about animals. Food, reproduction, child rearing and being left to get on with it. They keep it pretty basic really! And by the way, I still shout and flap my arms aroud like a three year old every time I see a rabbit somewhere unexpected. I woke the kids one night when we had a hedgehog in the garden and I phoned my husband at his work to tell him there was a squirrel on the fence!

    @Dani,
    Thanks! I’m rubbish at finding good images online – everyone else seems to do it so effortlessly – so if I have any of my own, I like to use them. I used to be very into photography; even developed my own photos in our kitchen after we’d turned it into a darkroom.

    @Randi,
    Thank you for Stumbling it! I’ve no idea how to either; I just click the Stumble icon when I like something. I’m glad you enjoyed this wee bit of Scotland. The blackbird mum disappeared shortly after the dad arrived, but my husband did a bit of research and it seems she may have gone off and started the next batch! I love writing about the little things but like most parents, I never lose sight of the big picture when I’m doing it. It’s the moments that make a life.

    @Marc,
    Thank you! I love taking photos of the everyday, and having this wee family right under my nose was a photographer’s dream! I’ve lost my way a wee bit recently, wondering why there’s such a huge discrepancy between the number of views/subscribers/comments, but after being ill this weekend, I decided just to stick to what I enjoy writing and leave the rest up to nature. One of the many things I learned from the wee blackbird family was not to push things; I just need to trust my instincts like I always used to. Raising my family well is my top priority; having the chance to write and connect with folk online is a bonus.

    @Hayden,
    My husband is pretty awesome! He makes me laugh – always has done. It’s the first thing that attracted me to him. My whole family has teased me mercilessly about my bird foster family. Yesterday he was saying “You raise them, take care of them then they fly off and never write, never phone…”

    @Tess,
    Thanks! I worry when I read all those ‘doom and gloom’ posts that say “No-one wants to hear what you had for breakfast!” but then I looked at my favourite blog reads and my favourites are not just personal and authentic, they’re quirky and recognisable, no matter what their subject matter is; I’d recognise them even if the author’s name was deleted. So I decided to just go on being bravely me, birds bees and all!

    @Raylene,
    It was lovely bumping into you today; it was also very good for me. If you meet someone after a few years, it’s interesting how you choose to sum up what you’ve been up to. You’re one of the few folk I’ve ever come straight out and told that I’m writing a lot these days, and supporting more folk that way than through my one to one coaching. You’ve always been a half full glass kind of person and that’s why you stood out and it’s always so easy to talk to you. If you have time, check out some of the comments threads as well as my articles. There are some very strong, very postive people who grab the odd coffee here!

  6. Hi Janice,
    What a fun story of humans and nature! I liked the bird shots as she eyed you up.
    We have a robin that hangs around all winter that is very used to us humans. This summer, I’ve been working and watering in the yard more than usual, and the robin swings by to see if I’ve stirred up some worms for him. I’m think he sees me as his personal worm getter.
    I left another bird story similar to yours in the comments here http://tinyurl.com/ktbu5j at Davina’s Shades of Crimson blog.

    Lori Hoeck´s last blog post..Self defense and kids — how-to for parents

  7. @Lori,
    I nipped over and read your bird story. Are blackbirds mental or what!? Or maybe they’re just good at guessing whch daft folk will adopt them and keep them safe… 😉 I loved Davina’s chalking on the pavement!

    @Chania Girl,
    Glad you’re blogging and commenting again and getting back into the swing of things. When will you be back on Crete so you can get back into the routines you loved and create some new ones?

    @Liara,(I’ve just spotted that I’d put @Lori here and have just changed it; I’m so, so sorry. My eye must have done a blip. The following was definitely addressed to you in response to your comment.)
    I’m inspired by most things and happy to be led by synchronicity, but nature really does drive its lessons home; most of my longer pieces are a bit obsessed with what we can learn from nature in our back yards and from loving the daily details of our lives.

  8. Hi Janice.
    I’m so glad that Lori sent you over to my blog and we “met”. These pictures melt my heart. I absolutely adore birds. The most frustrating part about this adoration is that I long to hold them in my hands and pet their tiny head. But they’re too afraid to ever let that happen.

    Davina´s last blog post..Heads Up — Beware of Crows!

  9. @Davina,
    Glad to see you here! One of my greatest frustrations in blogging is that I visit blogs where I ‘meet’ like-minded people in the comments boxes, get to know them gradually but because of time restrictions have to fight the urge to visit everyone’s blogs. Then of course, when I do, I not only like the blog, but meet all sorts of other people I know there and wish I’d done it sooner! I really enjoyed your piece about birds; I got a surprise when I realised how often I write about them and it made me feel less like a bird obsessive when I realised how many other folk are mesmerised by them, too.

    I grew up with birds. My dad was a prize budgerigar breeder and I got to handle the chicks. One of my earliest memories is of burying my bare arms right up to the elbow in the big barrel of bird seed which flowed like silky, grains of gold. I can still smell it to this day.

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