Saturday, February 18, 2006

It's the Little Things

It's the little things that fill me with wonder.

Yesterday, just before dusk, Larry and I took the kids on a walk through the fields behind our property. On our last time out, Alex and I found a variety of tracks and saw a herd of deer bounding along the tree line.

But the corn had just been cut then, and some of the cobs still had enough kernels on them to attract deer, racoons, rodents and the predators that feed on them. Now, all the cobs are bare. We saw some deer tracks but not much besides that, save for some dig marks where some creatures had scavenged for what may have been stashed or overlooked.

Larry pointed out this nest on a ditchbank. I have yet to look in my field guide and identify what type of bird built it. But birds nests like this never fail to fascinate me. This one was anchored in a sapling, its straw sides woven around trunk and limbs of the little tree. Grass and leaves made up the bulk of the nest, but it contained other things as well - spiderwebs, a piece of cellophane, the shed skin of a baby ratsnake and pieces of a long-abandoned hornets' nest.

Babies were hatched and raised there, in that nest. If they survived their first year, come this spring they'll build nests of their own. They won't learn it by example, songbirds don't stay with their parents. But once the urge to court hits and they find a mate, they'll just know. And as we humans struggle and fume over our self-made dilemmas, somewhere, by a ditchbank a nest will be built in a sure sign that life goes on.

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