ICEBERGS  by Joyce Martin Perz

Robert and I affectionately call the large wooden balcony off our dining room “The Deck of the Titanic.” This is our way of acknowledging the unseen hazards lurking on the course of our voyage into old age, not unlike the iceberg that sank the Titanic.

“Another cup of coffee?” Or depending on the hour- “a glass of wine?”

We sit on the deck, enjoying the yard, companionship and laughter.  We watch the birds eat seed from the feeder or drink water from the birdbath  – finches, sparrows, woodpeckers.  Hummingbirds flit from flower-to-flower or drink sugar water set out especially for them.

I love waking up to a robin’s song, so I was delighted when a pair of robins nested in the limbs of the black locust directly across from where we sit.  Their tidy gathering of twigs rested securely in the crook of two strong branches.

We watched. Soon the female rarely left her nest. Was she keeping eggs warm? It rained. The wind blew. The temperature was unseasonably cool.

We waited. The first indication of hatch-lings was the Robin’s tag-team flights, carrying bugs to the nest. Then Robert found half a robin’s egg at the base of the black locust. The robins’ feeding rotations became frantic.

I watched the Robins through binoculars: eye-to-eye, up close-and-personal. They seemed to know what I was doing and accepted I was with them.

Three birds hatched. Beaks wide open. Blind to everything except the large bugs dropped down their throats by Mom or Dad.

On the evening of May 23rd, I was inside watching television and sewing.

“We have a problem,” Robert announced from the dark yard.

“What? What happened?” I asked and rushed outdoors.

He was standing under the black locust, aiming a flashlight at the gravel path.  In the circle of light at his feet was a tiny featherless robin.

I ran back inside, returning with three tissues. Scooping up the robin, I felt her undeveloped wings flex and saw an over-sized foot reach out to grasp safety. I kept her cupped in my hands while Robert got the ladder.  He placed it near the nest. I  handed him the baby bird and Mama Robin flew off as he reached out to shake her back into the nest. Robert took down the ladder and we went inside.

Did we do the right thing? Would Mama Robin return? Would the hatch-ling survive?

In the morning, Mama and Papa Robin’s feeding activities were normal. I tried to see how many small heads reached up to receive the bug or worm they offered, but I couldn’t be certain..

Two days later the nest was empty. It didn’t look disturbed. Abandoned!

I wept.

Robert said he’d heard a commotion the night before. “Maybe a predator got them,” he said. “On Saturday I’ll setup the ladder and check their nest.”

This morning I heard a robin singing in the distance.


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