Earth Journal

Vol. 8, No. 3
January 20-26, 2000
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A Home of One's Own
by M.L. Faunce

Right around the time the sale sign went up on my house, a Carolina wren set up housekeeping in a small basket on my front porch. This sweet, caramel-colored creature chose to roost in a spot warmed by afternoon sun and sheltered from rain or snow. The bird didn’t worry about the comings and goings of real estate agents, seemingly satisfied with the time-tested recipe of location, location, location.

It’s no mystery what attracted this feathered friend to my door. A good stock of trees, woodland thicket and grasses bordering wetlands and the Bay just a stone’s throw away — the same environment that first attracted me to this South County home.

But what seems a simple process of finding (or giving up) a satisfactory home for birds of the air is slightly more complicated for earthbound creatures like us. And while selling a home is more about moving on than moving in, we often find ourselves grounded in the past rather than thinking about future. For it is there that we have comfort, have taken root, nurtured and been nurtured. Besides, what can any of us know of the future?

In my present home, I’ve known some birds as long as I’ve known some neighbors. That may seem a stretch, but if you find the right perch (like from the window of my computer room), you get to know such things.

There’s a mockingbird I’ve written about in these pages. A bird that has feigned and fooled me with antics unceasing. How do I know it’s the same bird? A drooping right wing is the giveaway.

A female cardinal often appears at dusk to feed, as cardinals will. This proud lady has but one leg. Lest you think this bit of heaven on earth fraught with mishap, look closer. The garden offers safe haven. In the garden, lapped by gentle waters and Bay breezes that sing through loblolly pine, blue birds produce prodigiously and a pair of eagles rained down sticks while constructing a nest.

The Carolina wren thrives in mild years, and we’ve been blessed with several lately. Travelers not at all, they tend to stay around, relishing both swamp and thicket. Less picky than humans, they make do with tin cans and tree stumps, a mailbox or even a coat pocket on a clothesline (where people still hang their wash on clotheslines).

Perhaps the wrens’ memory is not as selective as ours. Perhaps they are more grateful, better prepared to move on, more trusting in nature that they will find all they wish in a new home, somewhere, somehow. When you’ve got location, location, location, what’s there to miss about an old home?
John Taylor — Chesapeake Country author, artist of Bay habit and birder — calls Carolina wrens “irrepressible” in their singing. “They simply won’t let their spirits be dampened,” he told me.

Shouldn’t we then, be like the birds of the air? Or at least half as positive as the Carolina wren when our world and home changes?

For a while, friends and neighbors won’t be able to leave notes and friendly messages in the woven basket taken over by the wren that now guards my door. For a while, this will still be a home of my own, shared with a Carolina wren who came around the time the sale sign went up and who lifts my spirit when I need it most.

Copyright 2000
New Bay Times Weekly