She is a plucky little thing, our wren. But then, she’s a mother, and I haven’t met a mom yet who wasn’t plucky when it came to her children. She definitely has that nesting instinct!
I first discovered evidence of her pluck when it was time to do laundry one Monday morning. The kids were in school, and when I reached into my clothespin bag hanging on the screened-in porch, I found a few twigs and pieces of straw.
“Wait till I get a hold of him!” I muttered to myself.
“Him” was a certain boy who was known to be creating things in places his father thought new creations were not necessary. I planned to explain thoroughly why twigs do not belong in my clothespin bag.
As I continued to retrieve twigs from the bag so I could reach my clothespins, I discovered the remains of a nest.
Too late, I thought. I put it outside so I could show it to the boys when they got home.
The Nest Returns
After the boys had seen the nest, I forgot about it and the bird.
Until, that is, we returned from a ten-day trip out of town. Hurriedly the next morning, I stuffed my fist into the bag. I was met by fluttering wings and a tiny brown body. She flapped in my face and flew away. Startled, I watched her disappear out the hole at the bottom of the screen on the back porch.
I decided the nest could stay.
“Any bird who is that persistent has a right to have her babies right here, clothespins or no clothespins,” I explained.
For a few days, it rained on wash day and the dryer functioned well. Then the sun came out, but the nest had four little, brown speckled eggs. She became braver and seemed to believe that I wasn’t going to hurt her.
I am sure, at times, she wondered, for I tried to check the nest often when I thought she wasn’t around. She sat so still on her nest that I could detect no movement. I’d peer closer to the inside of the bag. We’d both startle to find each other there.
“It’s all right, Jenny,” I’d assure her. “I won’t hurt you or your eggs.”
My sisters laughed at me when I told them why the wash line was not in use on sunny days.
“That’s the best reason I’ve heard of yet for not using a wash line!”, one of them said.
The Nest and the Mama stay
The dryer kept working well until I replenished my supply of clothespins and used another bag. Jenny Wren nested on top of the clothespins and kept working to keep the eggs warm.
She’s a plucky little thing, this mama wren.
Mothering even before her babies are born.
Jenny’s nest is still there, championing life. While I don’t put animals above people, my decision to allow her nest to remain on my back porch and in my clothespin bag goes deeper than my appreciation of her persistence.
It’s my statement to me and to my kids that I believe in life. I believe in the respect and preservation of all creatures, for God created them as well as me. I believe in the right of birth and its persistence.
Jenny Wren’s nest reminds me that I believe in God. I believe there are some choices we dare not allow ourselves to claim – for they never were ours in the first place.
This story was first printed in a column I had in a local community interest newsmagazine. Then it was published in the book Southside Glimmers. There are so many things we can learn about life if we just pay attention. Animals are born with an instinct, and we would do well to learn from them (and from nature around us). We can learn from them if we but watch and listen.