Last year two robins built their nest in the Aspen tree in front of our house. I named them Fred and Ethel. Ethel, it appeared, was in charge. Fred helped. But, as with most females, the nest was hers. Fred brought twigs and did his best, but Ethel corrected his mistakes, laid her eggs and faithfully incubated their young while Fred foraged and occasionally got distracted.
They made their appearance March 9, perched side-by-side on the fence near our deck. I don’t know where they have been. Maybe they spent the winter in Mexico, flitting around some sunny beach, maybe Acapulco! After all, a wall is nothing to a bird. They can literally fly right through customs, or over any man-made barrier whenever they choose. But then, again, maybe they settled for southern California, munching on grapes and black berries.
Fred greets the morning, before sunrise, with song. Maybe Fred has been hanging out with Willie. He seems happy to be “on the road again.” The red-wing black birds join him, their red epaulets flashing in the sun as they fly to the grassy marsh behind our house to build their nests. After a joyful winter foraging with friends and family in distant places, they are coming for a summer of hard work. A nest to build, maybe two or three broods of young to repopulate the planet.
The trees are still bare-limbed and the grass is not yet green. We will likely have another snowfall or two in Colorado, but the temps are spiking into the 50s and the Aspen are starting to bud. Fred and Ethel seem oblivious to the coronavirus, the devastated stock market, school closings, suspended athletic contests, closed concerts and shuttered cafes. They know the sun will rise and that spring will come, so they are getting ready. Fred and Ethel are confident a better day is yet to come.
In the midst of our disrupted lives I find it comforting to watch the birds. They have survived hurricanes, winter storms, attacks from predators and their own diseases. They don’t give up. They just keep singing, and building their nests and raising their young. Maybe we can sing while it is still dark, before the sunrise. I like the song, 10,000 reasons … “The sun comes up, there’s a new day dawning. It’s time to sing my song again. Whatever may come and whatever lies before me, let me be singing when the evening comes.”
We are enduring one of the greatest tests of my life-time, which includes 3 quarters of a century. Fortunately the fiction writers who penned and produced the doomsday stories were wrong. When the world population is tested, as we are today, most people refuse to dissolve into chaos and selfish survival. We help one another. We care for one another. We cheer each other on. We pull through together, like the birds.
Though these days are difficult and confusing, spring will come. Summer will follow. A brighter day is yet to dawn with much laughter and joy and celebration. Like the captives who returned to Jerusalem, we will be able to say, “When the Lord brought back the captive ones of Zion, we were like those who dream. Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with joyful shouting; then they said among the nations, ‘The Lord has done great things for them!’” (Psalm 126:1-2).