Charmed

 

The door to my home is now charmed.

By a family of finches.

I’ve been researching house finches since a pair of them persevered in rebuilding a nest on the wreath adorning my front door, where the mother laid four tiny blue eggs (see last week’s post, Sanctuary). I discovered in my reading that the word for a group of finches is a charm.

A word of delight, enchantment, magic . . . very much what I feel as I step into my bird sanctuary to check on the babies. The last egg hatched early this morning. The mother removed the eggshells after each hatching so now there’s just four pink things with tufts of gray-white feathers huddling close to one another, so tiny that they’d all fit easily in the palm of my hand with room to spare.

I think: They’re so fragile. Yet so hardy. 

A paradox describing life itself.

With every glimpse of the hatchlings I am filled with the glory of being alive. That they are alive, changing every single moment. That I am alive to see them. My door is their sanctuary; they are my miracle. That this is the ordinary course of things does not make it any less so; we will never have a sense of the miraculous if we cease to look for it.

I wonder what the babies will think of me, this formidable being who briefly appears and disappears by the rim of their dwelling. I do not want them to be afraid. I can offer my bird family nothing but the safety and shelter of my porch roof, but, truth is, the mother and father chose the place and it had nothing to do with me. The mother flies to a nearby pine when she sees me coming, so I limit my visits to once a day for a few seconds. I get my fix of awe and get out of the way.

Honoring the life that came into my sphere.

There are so many directions I might take this post, as a mother, as a teacher, as a literacy coach, as a writer. I will let it rest on the level of human being: Honor the lives that come your way. How you do so is the shape and artistry of your own life. It is what we’re meant to do, every bit as much as the mother finch was meant to design her beautiful, dandelion-laced nest for the lives it now holds.

I am grateful for my tiny charm of finches, profoundly grateful for life itself.

Charmed, indeed, in so many ways.

Incidentally, charm comes from the Latin carmen, meaning “song” and “verse.” The babies are silent right now but in a few days they’ll be peeping, eventually singing. Finches are songbirds. All in all, I cannot think of a better word to collectively describe these little creatures.

Although I intentionally didn’t mention before that the other word for a group of finches is a trembling.

Again so perfect.

Not for describing the finches, however. For describing me as I stand in the quiet of my porch sanctuary viewing the new pink life, holding my breath, a wordless song swelling in my heart, trembling at the minuteness and magnitude of it all.

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As the last egg was hatching

 

 

22 thoughts on “Charmed

    • The whole thing, from the nest-building to the egg-laying to the hatching has been amazing to see – I have such an up close, bird’s eye view, so to speak! I cherish these moments and am awed anew at every quick peek at these tiny babies. Thank you –

      Liked by 2 people

    • I turned the word meanings and connotations over and over in my mind as I wrote – it was perfectly chosen as the group name for finches, and so captured what they inspired in me. Big takeaways from such tiny life. Thank YOU for letting me know this inspired you also – what a joy!

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  1. I love where you’re taking this…
    honoring the life that came into my sphere.

    There are so many directions I might take this post, as a mother, as a teacher, as a literacy coach, as a writer. I will let it rest on the level of human being: Honor the lives that come your way. How you do so is the shape and artistry of your own life. It is what we’re meant to do, every bit as much as the mother finch was meant to design her beautiful, dandelion-laced nest for the lives it now holds

    So much to consider from that small nest with babies… I think a lot about my classroom and so much of what really happened in there… If my students felt honored and respected I was doing right by them… Right?
    Bonnie

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    • I am glad this struck such a chord with you and yes, the classrooms, the children, every one that I encounter, were also in my mind as I wrote. We are entrusted with their lives and their learning; it begins with our honoring them. Much harder to do with humanity, sadly, than with fragile new birds that will soon be gone. The students, they arrive on our portals for survival, with hope of a future … sometimes we may be the ones who have to instill that. Thank you for your words and your deep reflection here.

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  2. I love the words you discovered for the finches- a charm and trembling. Perfection. The paragraph where you wrote about honoring the lives that come your way, “How you do so is the shape and artistry of your own life. It is what we’re meant to do, every bit as much as the mother finch was meant to design her beautiful, dandelion-laced nest for the lives it now holds.”- This is so striking and powerful, I want to write it down in my own notebook and remember it. I’m grateful for your weekly slices. This was beautiful!

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    • I could not believe it when I came across these old, old names for a group of finches (most of us have heard of a parliament of owls, a gaggle of geese, an unkindness of ravens … ). When I read “charm,” I knew exactly what this title would be. Hummingbirds are a charm, also. And a trembling of finches – I must’ve stared at the screen for five minutes, not moving, absorbing the wonder of the things that come when you do a little digging.

      I learned that a mother house finch may lay her eggs containing females first, to minimize males being
      exposed to a mite that’s especially harmful to them; how’s that for honoring life? Differentiated egg-laying! How is that DONE??

      Thank you, Kathleen, for telling me those lines resonated so with you. I am immeasurably grateful for your words.

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  3. Oh! Charmed and trembling, I read your post and contemplate the lives within it. I am moved by all the contrasts (paradoxes? juxtaposition?) in this – fragile and hardy, door and sanctuary, ordinary and miracle, the mother’s fear and your awe; their current silence and eventual song, minuteness and magnitude. Thank you for sharing this wonder with us.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. How beautifully you paired the paradoxes-! I wasn’t even fully aware of them all! Thank you, Amanda, for telling me that you were moved by this piece. I hoped that my sense of awe would be palpable to the reader. Trying to keep from obsession, but every day I need to know that the babies are safe and well. And every day they are. And my heart sings. 🙂

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  5. A delicate, quiet, awe-filled post. I think babies of all kinds tug on our female heartstrings; we are lucky to have the ability to co-create (even if we choose not to); I think that connects us to all instances of Creation at a deep level, if we only stop to notice. Thanks for including us in your careful, respectful observations.

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  6. I inadvertently pulled a finch nest out of a window box in early summer, thinking it was a clump of dead organic matter. Now I feel so awful…thinking about what might have been, thanks to your lovely post last week. You have received a gift from the universe and you are fully appreciating that gift…and even better…you are sharing it with all of us. Your words are as beautiful and delicate as these fluffy babies. I can’t wait to hear the news from this past week.

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    • Thank you for these lovely words, Barbara. The babies’s eyes opened this weekend and they’re all sitting upright in the nest now. They remain quiet; my understanding is that they will soon find their voices – that may well be what I should write about next! Try not to despair over your “organic matter” episode – I’ve learned that these little creatures are amazingly hardy. They would have quickly rebuilt somewhere if they needed that nest. And yes … I feel I’ve been given a hallowed gift by being able to witness the life of this little charm. 🙂

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