There are birds growing in my garden!!
This time of the year does strange things to me…I’m overcome by a foolish romanticism more unreal than that of Jack Dawson’s in the Titanic!
Early morning…every morning, I sit on the bench we made with scrap wood and gaze at the jewel green in front of me for hours on end, mesmerised, like a child watching a magical fairy tale on TV. A copse of vigilant apple trees flank the periphery while carefree buttercups dance all day long at the other end.
As the sun comes up in front, winning battles with villainous fluffs of white and grey, my little world celebrates the victory by colouring everything with its gloriole-gold. I see tiny wild flowers wake up, and smile at its effulgence, blood apples in the trees shyly joining in. When I look hard enough, I can see cobwebs in the Jurrasic grass, tiny spiders glistening like moon dust. Butterflies dutifully say hello to suede soft pansies that hold lens clear drops of water, like proud trophies. Vagabond poppies line the fringe of my garden. Dew drops glisten on gigantic colocasia leaves like mini moons.There is a magical scent in the air and I instantly recognise it as geosmine…the smell of the earth…and when I close my eyes and breathe in deep, the melange registers as a sweet mix of apples, roses, love and grass vapour. A clean, heavenly, intoxicating smell.
An iridescent magpie alights onto a nearby honeysuckle, that wraps itself shyly around a tree, and it launches into an avian aria, happily disturbing my peace. But I don’t mind. It serves as an alarm for the other birds that hastily join in the dawn chorus that fills all the nooks and crannies of the garden. It sneaks its way into the rooms above and soon, I know, my guests will appear in the balconies, sleepy-eyed but smiling at the cacophony. As if in preparation of that awakening, a murmuration of sparrows put up an arial display against a dragon back mountain, looping, reeling, diving, like someone tossed a handful of grain in the sky. Happy little wagtails play navigators to the occasional vehicle that drives past carrying the freshest produce to the local market, dipping and lifting just meters ahead of them. There is a considerable increase in the sighting of these wonderful creatures and their songs in this season.
The entire garden seems to be talking to me in muted tones, like a room full of people whispering their secrets to me, all at once..
And then I noticed it..a little bird, nattily dressed in black and white, twist past the house with an air of purpose and haste, yet one of uncluttered elegance. It plunged down from a tall Deodhar in an abrupt curve hiding itself between thick blades of grass. A peculiar vague enthusiasm for what I suspected finds a full echo in my heart. This time of the year heralds longer days and the earth is warmer after the harsh winter. This ensures abundant food for the birds in the form of unsuspecting insects. Perfect time for laying eggs! Another reason for choosing this time of the year was to ensure that the babies are fully grown by the time winter comes, ensuring their survival.
I recognise the little bird as the Coal Tit, with its black cap, black bib and a tell tale white rectangle on the back of its head and neck, and follow it to where it kept disappearing into the grass. I was stunned at what I saw. There in the grass, right in the middle of my garden, lay the most beautiful nest I ever saw, made laboriously with hair and bits of sticks and straw and in it sat 2 beautiful eggs, no larger than my thumb nail! I looked at them in amazement, feeling blessed to bear witness to the secret haunts of these marvellous mountain birds, my heart bursting with the desire to scream to the world – Look! There are birds growing in my garden! I wanted to sit the little bird down on my palm and tell her not to worry, that I was going to look after her nest and eggs and wouldn’t let any harm befall her tiny world of wonder. As the moment of madness passed, I realised that is exactly what she didn’t need – human interference. She had found the perfect spot to build her nest, where it was protected from the rain and camouflaged beautifully to keep it safe from larger birds. She had built it, a perfect round, with materials that would keep her eggs warm and the chicks comfortable. And here I was, trying to take over. It dawned on me how as humans, we have to learn almost everything and how animals and birds are born with their faculties fully developed, being a ‘package of instincts’!
I marvelled everyday, at the magic happening in my garden, watched from a distance how she would sit on the eggs for long hours everyday. In a few weeks, her swoops to the nest became more frequent and when I saw her carry little worms in her beak I knew – my garden was teeming with new life! I peeped into the nest and saw the cutest little chicks, eyes tightly shut. I would check on them everyday and soon, as as I would move the grass curtain to peer in, 2 little yellow beaks would open skywards and cheep-cheep for food! I wanted to hug them, and name them and take them out for a spin in the car, like I did the dogs so often! And then one day, as another morning came, and the sun rose up in front of me, injecting warmth and life into my garden, the lives that I had fallen so in love with were gone. The chicks were out, their first brush with flying, and the nest lay empty. I felt sharp tears sting my eyes, as I looked at the sky, wanting to catch a glimpse of the runaways, the lump in my throat getting bigger by the minute. I was doing and feeling exactly as I was conditioned to…to hold on tight, to not let go.
I sat on my bench once again, my heart aching with what I thought was yet another loss, hot tears pouring down my cheeks. And then it dawned on me. When we finally move away and on from what is expected of us, the conditioning, the unreasonable expectations from ourselves and our environment, and accept what happens as the circle of life, recognising the consciousness that lies deep within, that is when we truly evolve. The beauty of what I had witnessed dazzled me, returning the smile to my eyes. I began to hear the flowers again, I could taste the burnt sienna of the sun’s rays. I looked up at the sky again, this time to send up a prayer of gratitude for signs that my body was in sync with my soul and that I was alive!
As I wend my way back into the house, I smile at the adequateness of nothing in my life and the covent quiet finally at the bottom of my heart. What a life lesson, from a tiny bird. Come sit in my garden. You may find your own little bird here…