It was early-May when my neighbor and I made our very first weekend Wal-mart run. Various odds and ends were needed, but birdseed and hanging plants were high on the list. So naturally we hit up the Garden Center first.
It was there that, inspired by the green thumb of my companion and the bare bones of my balcony back home, a colorful geranium made its way into my life – for better or worse – accompanied by a bag of birdseed.
I was grateful to discover my balcony already had a ceiling hook in place from a previous tenant. So I just looped my newly adopted geranium over it and “voila!” the colorful plant was up on display! Next, I put the birdseed in a bowl on a small patio stand and positioned it relatively close to the geranium.
As days went by, I began to feel my attention gravitate more and more to the activity surrounding the bowl of bird seed. I began waking up earlier, to account for the extra time I’d spend sitting on the far end of my couch with my coffee, gazing through sliding glass door. I began to recognize my return visitors and even had a book to identify the newcomers. I’d officially become… a birdwatcher.
It wasn’t long before one little house finch, in particular, caught my eye. She had this peculiar habit of bouncing back and forth between my hanging plant and the seed dish. She’d go back and forth, back and forth – spending a majority of her time in the geranium.
What is she doing in there? I went outside for a closer look and then, from the new angle, I saw it... a nest!
From that moment on, checking on Momma Fin (as I began to call her) and her nest became a part of my daily routine. I looked forward to coming home after a long day at work to see her perched amongst the petals, eyes half closed, geranium swaying in the wind like a rocker, with the sun eventually setting behind her. She looked so peaceful.
Little though she was, she also had a great deal of perseverance. I witnessed her pant her way through some of the hottest days of summer and buckle down her beak in the most blustery of storms – all to ensure her nest was protected and eggs incubated.
All the while, I had this vision of what the discovery of her hatchlings would be like, should the eggs finally hatch. I pictured myself peering down into her nest and seeing this cute little bunch of feathered fluff-balls, akin to baby chicks, chirping pleasantly up at me with bright, inquisitive eyes.
Imagine my alarm when the reality of the situation was more like peering down at a cluster of semi-transparent, miniature plucked chickens, squirming around on top of one another with bulges for eyeballs. Not at all like I’d imagined them.
Still, it wasn’t long before Momma Fin’s little brood began to grow on me, both literally and figuratively. Day by day they became bigger and more birdlike; slightly less startling and slightly more endearing. Until finally one day, while I was away from home, they took their first flight without me. And just like that... they were gone.
I’ll admit, returning home to (literally) an empty nest, was kind of a strange feeling at first; I’d become so accustomed to watching this mini-miracle of life unfold daily before my eyes.
There was a hint of sadness, but also a lingering sense of appreciation. Of all the hanging plants in the neighborhood and on our building, Momma Fin could have chosen any of them for her nest, but she chose mine – I’m not sure why, but I'm sure grateful she did.