May 8, 2013 by Ellen Stimson in Springtime

 I have an old Wisteria vine that grows on a trellis beside my front porch. It climbs along the western face of the farmhouse up nearly to the balcony above the front porch. Or it would if the trellis hadn’t sagged a year or so ago from its weight. This spring was the time to carefully untangle the thick old vines and build a new more solid trellis that would support it once again. The sag is sort of pretty in an old ruined kind of way. It dips along side the front porch and were it not for the actual trellis detached from the wall, the shape, sort of an old English alphabet letter all curled and draping, would be lovely. It is actually lovely in a way, no matter the sag of the lattice.

But as the days got warm enough to linger and study the plant, I watched instead as a little finch couple began to take up residence. They flew all around our house and carried, leaves, sticks, muddy clumps and dog fur as they built a solid nest between the sagging trellis and the wall. They braved two April snowstorms as they alternatively built and then hunkered down in the half finished house.

Finally Mrs. Finch took up residence while Mr. Finch made housing adjustments and renovations and brought his wife little edible delicacies from the yard. Pretty soon there were three small blue eggs the size of jellybeans.

And now there are two baby birds that are all fluff and feathers. The third egg seemed to hatch very late almost ten days after the babies first started coming. A very tiny little ball of fluff made a short appearance. I wondered for a day or so if the little one was tucked under her siblings but I think it is more likely that she didn’t make it and Dad made more room for his healthy children. He is forever running back and forth bringing things in and taking other things out. He is a fully evolved co parent here. And Mama almost never leaves the kids excepting only short flights to the honeysuckle a few feet away. Between twilight and mid morning she is a constant presence spreading her wings over the nest wile her babies slumber beneath.

There is a redheaded brother and his downy grey sister. They sleep snuggled up in a warm cocoon and even have a blanket made of Violet’s fur with little bits of mud interwoven like stitches in a quilt. From the balcony I can look down into their nest and watch them snuggle and squabble, grow and chirp. I feel a deep sense of responsibility to this little family. I have read about these mountain finches that once settled in they and their children will come back year after year to raise their families. My stewardship feels important like maybe I am the Grandmommy Finch. Sadiecat has been banned form the balcony and our morning and evening rituals now include a check on the babies. We chase away Bluejays and keep an out for local owls and hawks.

So what if my trellis never gets straightened out now?  It turns out it had way more important work coming.

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