Hope in a Basket

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“Hope in Basket”
Watercolor and charcoal on paper

Since the death of the baby birds I have kept an eye out for the mother and father birds to no avail. They seemed to have disappeared. However, literally moments after I sat down to paint and draw this mixed-media picture of their abandoned nest, now blooming with marigolds, the mother came and perched on the top of basket. She leaned down almost as if admiring the flowers, then hopped down to the side of the basket. Looking through the glass storm door at me, she cocked her head. I barely breathed, not wanted to scare her. We stayed like this a few moment then she flew away. I haven’t seen her again since.

I know it’s far-fetched, but I like to believe she approved of me honoring her loss and came to let me know.

The Saga of the Birds

Ok, here is the promised saga of the baby birds mentioned a couple of posts ago:

 

IMG_9852I had a decorative basket hanging on a wall outside next to the front door. A family of pretty little brown birds built a nest in it and pretty soon a constant chorus 

of chirping accompanied our comings and goings through the door. One day last week my little girl and I came home from running errands and she excitedly ran around our driveway picking up rocks (she’s obsessed). I heard her say, “Oh!” I looked over to see an oddly shaped pinkish thing on the concrete in front of her. As she reached toward it I realized it was a tiny, featherless, motionless baby bird. “Don’t touch it!” I barked, then putting on false calm and cheer I said, “It’s a baby bird. He’s taking a nap in the sun. Let’s leave him alone.”  I scanned the area and realized the nest had been destroyed. Turning to go inside I almost stepped on a second chick. This one clearly still alive. Heart pounding I took my toddler inside, convinced her that we did not need to take the baby birds a blanket for their nap, and distracted her with Cinderella while I tried to figure out what to do. After consulting with my husband and leaving a message with the bird rescue at Oak Mt. State Park, I put plastic bags on my hands (we didn’t have any gloves) and stepped outside.

Approaching the first baby bird, I knelt down. He was so tiny. I expected to have trouble picking him up. However he craned his head on his too thin little neck toward my hand and actually seemed to do his best to work his way into my palm. I can’t in good conscious say he was cute… He was bald with huge closed eyes, however it was odd to me the similarities he seemed to share with fetal humans. We all start out pretty scrawny and ugly and I felt a maternal sort of protectiveness for him. I put him back in the nest, then went to help his sibling who I thought was already dead. I was wrong, though! He, too, craned toward my hand.

The rest of the afternoon I worried over them. Their mother flew back and forth to the nest and I thought maybe they’d be ok. A lady from Oak Mt. called me back and told me I’d done the right thing (and, for future reference, the gloves were unnecessary. The whole thing about your scent making the mother abandon them is a myth) and that the mother could tell whether or not they would make it.

They didn’t make it. I confess I cried. So yesterday, despite other things I needed to do during my little girl’s nap, I had a bird funeral. I put them under the tree where I normally saw their mother. Walking into the garage to put away my spade and gloves, I heard a familiar chirping. I looked up to see the edges of a nest high in the rafters near a space where the roof and wall don’t quite connect, leaving an opening to the outside. New babies! In my garage! I smiled.

This weekend I think I’ll buy some flowers to plant in the basket.

New Season, New Inspiration

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I have been LOVING the weather here! Yes, spring in Alabama means pollen galore, but it also means pretty weeds that I like to call art. 🙂

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I’ve been Spring cleaning my house, revamping and cleaning my studio (more on that HUGE undertaking soon) and, without even realizing it, cleaning up my paintings. My craving for open space and simplicity has carried over into these tiny paintings I’ve been doing, inspired by daily jaunts in our backyard with my toddling co-explorer.

 

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Outside the easel

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Note: I’m in the process of changing my blog over to WordPress. To read previous blog posts, check out erinhardin.blogspot.com, but please, come back to this blog to subscribe. Thanks! This past weekend I took an awesome watercolor journaling workshop … Continue reading