The Nursery

When my son was growing up, a gray and brown robin came each year to build her nest above the front porch light.  Because this was a regular yearly event, we expected to see her perched on the porch railing holding straw in her mouth.  Knowing that Spring was approaching, sometimes I put straw, shredded paper and string out on the adjacent bushes in preparation for her yearly return.

Twelve Springs came and went as did the robin.  Then in the thirteenth year, she did not come.  I felt like part of the family was missing as the season started and drifted into summer. Fall and winter followed bringing unusually warm weather with little snow. Spring arrived unannounced except for one thing.

robinRemembering how gray and tattered our mother robin looked last year, we attributed her age as the reason she no longer built her nest.  In fact, we all shared how concerned we were the last time we saw her.  Kind of like she had left the Mother days to begin her Grandmother Days.  I think the family including our old dog noticed something very special was missing.

Then, early one weekend morning, we heard robin voices outside. Opening up the front door carefully hopeful that the old latch did not squeak, I peaked around the corner.  There hustling bits and pieces of straw and string was a shiny new robin.  In fact, there were two of them busily building unaware of three sets of eyes staring at their activity. We watched for awhile and left the door open.  As the morning turned into afternoon, the robins, one at a time, patted down the nest with busy feet as the sides and bottom became sturdy. They were ready to lay…the eggs.

How many would there be this year?… I wondered.  Were these descendents of our beloved old robin? Would the nest be able to withstand the inevitable slanting rain?  Thinking those thoughts, I asked my husband to change the lightbulb in the porch light to be sure it would last the longstanding cold nights warming the newly laid eggs.  He did with a smile on his face..

Early that evening, the robin , we assumed the mother was sitting high on the nest.  She was very quiet and appeared to be concentrating. Well she probably was…  laying an egg must be quite an ordeal. Shortly after, she nestled down and closed her eyes. Ah… rest for the night!

As the days continued, twelve in all, we went in and out the door as usual.  The robins, each taking turns, rested on the nest for the first seven days.  The remaining five involved feeding the chicks after they hatched. By day eleven, four little heads appeared over the nest edge with mouths constantly open in preparation to eat.  But on day twelve, all, one at a time, were ushered to the porch edge waving  wings slowly as they lifted into the air, one at a time.  By early evening, the two robins were perched on the porch gutter singing away!  Maybe they were relieved and I am sure tired.  But alone again, they were giving new credence to the “empty nesters.”

So, I believe there was security on our front porch that carried from one generation to the other.  For several years after, the robins came and went.  When I sold the house after my husband died, I told the new owners those stories.  Sometimes, I find myself wondering if the “nursery” on our front porch is still active. Several new people have owned the house and I hope this story was told over and over.

That is what story is all about!

About the Author

Maryann Hartzell-Curran, a retired educator and counselor, has written a personal account of her journey through the first year of grieving the loss of her husband in her book, “From We to Me,” to help support those who have suffered the loss of a loved one. Maryann founded a successful family therapy practice and taught in the public and private sectors. She also founded and directed a church-based preschool in Lombard, Ill., and gained experience working with the elderly as director of a senior dining center. She has a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Wisconsin and a master’s degree in counseling from Illinois Benedictine University.

Comments (3)

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  1. Lucia Antonich says:

    Congrats on your book signing and your selling all those books. You are doing a great job and you are a sensitive and lovely authoress. I enjoyed “spring.” thanks, Lucia

  2. John Taylor says:

    Life always has been and always will be a continuation of known comforts……..

  3. Susie Love says:

    Mary-you have an amazing ability to remember and record the really good things back when we were in our younger days. I admire that ability more than you’ll ever know! Thank you for helping me to remember those special times. Love, Susie