They were everywhere. Baby birds stumbling through the too-tall grass up at the cabin. Their mom had decided it was time to send those youngsters out of the nest she’d built in a grapevine wreath hung next to the screen door. I first noticed it when I was unlocking the door. The robin swooped out, startling me. I looked up and there they were…four baby robins with fat faces staring solemnly back. Mom sat on the lawn chirping at me. I’m not sure if she was chewing me out or telling her kids to stay put.
By Monday afternoon, they were all out of the nest. Gusts of wind pushed rain across the lake. Mallards rode whitecaps. Two teenaged otters bobbed just off shore. It was not a good day for flying or doing much of anything else outside, for that matter. Especially if you haven’t any idea how to fly. So they hopped, and I mowed the lawn. Four very wet, very confused babies and a mom doing her best to herd them away the woman pushing a green monster named LawnBoy. I’d make a turn….start another pass through the yard…and there they’d be….four brown birds with faint hints of the orange feathers yet to come and wet spiky punk rock hairdos and their stressed out Mom, all running away from LawnBoy.
Did we slam the screen door on Sunday one too many times or did the mom just know instinctively that severe weather was coming later that day and want them out of the nest before it hit? Or was it just time? It’s impossible to know. Human parents of graduating seniors know only too well about the stormy skies and monsters out in the big world waiting for their kids. We come to accept that we can only protect them so much. The world is bigger than us, after all. So we do the only thing we can….we teach them to fly. Because we have no other choice.
I finished the lawn, dodging all five robins. As I was getting ready to leave, Momma Bird and her kids were gone. I choose to believe that they were nestled under the cabin porch, safely out of the wind and rain. A bird family of five snuggled together in the dark enjoying their angleworm supper while the babies discussed the long legged cabin creature and her grass eating monster.
And this morning when they awoke, I’ll bet they all learned to fly.