My husband, Dreamer, sees her first:
Dear seamstress of April
stockinged in brown,
your bright apron a blur,
are you watching me
How your beak darts
and weaves, hemming
the final layer of nest.
Lady Robin bustles about on the bench — four feet from our window. I pull up a chair. How might her story affect mine?
Sovereign Creator of Egg and Wing, attune my senses . . .
Still a rookie contemplative, I study her like a sacred text.
Like me, she briefly alights, only to flit. Seems we’re both distracted by hunger. (She eats roughly 14 feet of earthworms a day!)
When she’s inhabiting her grassy, mud-cup home, sometimes her tail nods like a feathered pendulum.
Loath to startle her, I emulate a statue.
Lord, teach me soulful elasticity.
During the second week, Lady Robin lays one egg per day, mid-morning. Three in all. Secret hemoglobin and bile brew that singular blue.
Perhaps her instinct’s drive resembles my need for a guiding word or phrase. I’ve slipped into lectio tierra, kissing cousin to lectio divina. Attending to an aspect of nature closely, I seek purpose and shape for my day, my actions, and outlook.
Then, a prayer: Please, shelter the homeless. Comfort the besieged in Ukraine. Help my friend, recently widowed. Assist friends adjusting to new and smaller living spaces.
Does her patience flag? How gently she turns the eggs with her bill, ensuring her young will not stick to the shells.
The naked brood patch on her belly calibrates temperature. She alternately presses closer lest the eggs chill or lets them cool, briefly exposed. Ever watchful. Sharing her own heat.
Worry muscles in when the weather worsens. Again, she points the way.
Nightly frost? She hunkers down.
Sideways rain? Still undeterred.
Bucketing hail, the size of peas? She extends each wing, rim to rim, seals the nest with her own flesh.
Sovereign of the Skies, shield this faithful bird, this countryside altar jeweled with hailstones. You see us all, every creature.
Lady Robin shifts to face me. Pale feathered crescents outline her gaze. By now she recognizes me.
“If a robin’s near,” so the saying goes, “it’s a loved one watching over you.”
This May, it almost feels true. It’s the anniversary of my mother’s death. Decades ago, she read me The Secret Garden, with its merry robin coaxing an awkward child toward the hidden key.
Sovereign of Egg and Wing, your grace is the key to everything.
In another week, the eggs will hatch. Lady Robin and her mate will deliver takeout . . . 100-150 times a day. Book-ending each day with their calls — first voice of the dawn chorus and one of the last songs heard at dusk — they will raise their family. And teach them to fly.
Got a bird story to share?
A robin can fly up to 35 mph
A group is known as a round of robins. Up to 200,000 robins sometimes roost together.
Because the English first tasted oranges in the 1300s, robins, often called redbreasts, were not described as “orange” until the 1500s when the word “orange” came into use.
Photos of Robin in Tree and Robin on Statue taken by my great friend Larry Manne. Eggs and hail shot, yours truly