Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Learning to Fly

We were on the hunt for the perfect rock to place in a new section of the garden. 

As the leader of this little expedition, I was scouting out front and hubby with the wheelbarrow in hand was pulling up the rear. Recent road work had brought a number of large rocks to the surface of the soil in the vacant lot beside the house and I was on the lookout for the consummate rugged specimen. 

We were anything but quiet explorers-chattering away to one another while the old rusted wheelbarrow creaked and squeaked as it passed over the rough terrain. As I passed alongside one of the recently planted blue spruce trees, there was a sudden and frantic fluttering of wings. An adolescent robin attempted to take flight, but his inexperienced wings faltered, and he fell to the ground in front of me. 

The young robin sat in the long grass regarding me with his big dark eyes. On a nearby branch, Mother Robin was anything but calm in the face of this perceived danger. She began squawking an angry warning while flying from the branch of one tree to another.  She was not going to give up her baby without a loud, angry protest.

"What do you think we should do?", I asked turning to hubby.

"What can you do, but try to pick it up, and put it back in the nest.", he replied.

I bent down and scooped up the tiny creature. Birds always feel so delicate and frail in your hands. I always feel like it is like trying to grasp warm air in your fingers! 

I expected the young robin to protest or even peck at my fingers with his beak, but instead he was quiet, as if resigned to the fact that his fate was literally in my hands.

I circled around the blue spruce looking for the nest. Mom's frantic squawking had alerted Dad and now they both took turns swooping past us with their warnings. The tree was not tall (maybe five feet) and so I had no problem spotting the nest on the far side near the top. I reached up and carefully placed their baby back in the nest. The young robin settled in while his angry parents did their very best to try to appear threatening. 

I can identify with the parent's trepidation for their young offspring. On Monday, our one and only son started his first good job with a rate of pay higher than an hourly wage. Now that he is all grown up, with his own shiny blue car in the driveway, a good salaried job with benefits, it won't be long before he too leaves the nest.

He's 24 and more than ready to go. His father and I are the ones who are struggling with the idea of seeing him finally take flight! We don't want him to go, although we both know he must.

On the morning of his first big day, hubby and I were working quietly together in the kitchen organizing the day's lunches. It is dark in the mornings now and there was even a bit of chill in the air. Can an early fall be headed our way?

I began cutting up a fresh cantaloupe (son's favourite) that we had gotten at the Farmer's Market on Saturday. Hubby busied himself taking the boxed leftovers out of the fridge and placing it in the appropriate lunch bags. Up until this point, our son's lunch bag had usually been a used shopping bag grabbed hastily as he dashed out the door. On this morning however, there was a sleek black lunch bag on the counter to go along with the new salaried job.

"There is not enough room in this thing!", hubby lamented when I handed him the tupperware container of cantaloupe and a snack sized crackers and cheese. "I'll have to put the plastic cutlery and his granola bar in the outside pouch."

Hubby zippered the front of the lunch bag closed and stood back unhappy. "He is never going to know that I have put anything in that outside pouch...maybe I better write him a note and put it inside the lunch bag to let him know."

Minutes later son breezed into the kitchen."Is my lunch ready? I'm late." Without waiting for an answer he unzipped the lunch box to check that everything was in order.

"What's this?", he asked pulling out his Dad's note. 

"A note..." hubby started to explain.

"Oh my God! There is a note from my Mommy in my lunch!", son jokingly protested."How to destroy any chance I have of being the cool new guy at work."

"I wrote the note..." hubby protested.

"Oh, that's only slightly better!", son interrupted laughing, "At least a note from my Dad might say something like: Join the army or pack your bags and move out!...And what the heck is this?", he asked pulling out a packaged handy-wipe.

"Your Mom packed you an apple turnover for breakfast. It's a long dive and I thought your hands might get sticky in the car. And the note is to explain that there is a knife and fork in the outside pouch of your lunch box.", hubby finally said, his feather's a little ruffled by our son's mock outrage.

Hey, what can I say? Hubby is a man with a big heart! 

The note and the handy-wipe got left behind on the counter and our son was out the door for the first day at his new job.

And so what ever became of the young robin who fell from the nest?

Just yesterday, I was walking to the back of the garden when I saw a greyish bird sitting on the ground near the herb garden. As I approached, it flapped its wings and managed to make it up to the arbor that you have seen featured so often in my photos. 

There the bird sat looking down at me and I realized as I passed underneath the arbor that it was a young robin, perhaps even the same adolescent robin we had rescued a few days before. There was another flutter of wings and he flew to a low branch in the big maple nearby.

As I worked away in the garden that afternoon, I heard Mom and Dad Robin constantly calling out their encouragement to the young bird, "Take flight! Take flight!"


  1. Such a sweet, tender story. It's hard to let our children grow and go. They are so eager to grow up ... if only they realized just how fast they did!

  2. Sweet! Your hubby is so cute, love the story. Also love the linen look you've given to your photos - how did you do that one?

    The monarda in the header is spectacular...

    Happy Wednesday!

  3. Jennifer, this story has such special meaning to me.
    My son just turned 24 today. He is away at school most of the year, but this summer we were fortunate enough to have him home for the summer. I pack his lunch every day for work. Check and double check to see that he has enough to eat, and then I grab a piece of paper from the kitchen drawer, fold it in half, cut out a little heart, and put it on top of all else in his lunch. I am the worst at letting go! :-)

  4. A story that touches my hart Jennifer. My son got back yesterday from his first holiday to spain with his friends. We know we have to let them go but still!!!
    Have a wonderful day and I hope your son will succeed.

  5. Jennifer, nice story! We the parents are always wanting the kids to fly to new, happy life and the other hand we we want they stay with us.
    Happy gardening!

  6. It is such a hard time in your life when they fly, but a fantastic time in theirs, and I suppose that is what keeps you going! I think you have to do a bit of grieving for that family life you have lost - and remember to set the table for one less !

  7. I thoroughly enjoyed this little tale of young birds and young men taking flight, slowly, awkwardly and in fits and starts. The empty nest is so literal and so real. I love that it was your husband who got all sentimental and worried about packing the lunch bag!!

  8. Two lovely stories Jennifer - both with happy endings. I don't have children but can understand the worry about having an empty nest - I guess Mrs. Robin felt the same way.

  9. Your post brought tears to my eyes. The love and care that you and your husband have for your son comes through so beautifully when you described how you packed his lunch. I especially felt a tug at my heart when you wrote that your husband wrote him a note. My folks recently sent my youngest brother off and my dad mentioned to me that he had picked up fixings for my brother's favorite meal but then remembered he is no longer there. It must happen but it is heart wrenching all the same. I know that my day will come all to quickly. Congrats to your son on his new must be so proud!

  10. Your son's fortunate to have such caring parents. Oh, did you find the perfect stone? That's an eternal quest, isn't it.

  11. Love the stories, you´re sweet parents! :-) Beautiful pics as well.

  12. A loving home is a confidence builder for kids, even when they're adults. :o) My son moved out at 19 but was only 10 miles away and I saw him weekly. It was a good way to learn to separate from each other. Your story is beautiful and shows how much you and your husband love your son. It's hard when they go but also reassuring to see how well they do without us.

  13. A lovely account of an important moment. We've been through it, with two boys 26 and 23. It's hard to see them go off on their own but there is no good alternative. And for them it is a moment of triumph.

  14. What a sweet post. It's always harder on the parents, I think, then the children when they leave. I have a family of swallows and it is so beautiful when they all fly together in early evening. I am not sure, but I suppose that experience only lasts one year. Next year, the younger swallows will be building their own nests. I wish your son well on his new job.

  15. What a great way to send your son off to his new job. You're probably right, it won't be long before he flies out of your nest. And it will be tough. But the next years will be a new chapter to enjoy. My kids have been gone since university took them out of town. It was a tough time that first year or two, but now I enjoy their visits from their "grown-up" worlds. And you will too.

  16. Lovely post ~ in words and images … and intention.

  17. Thank you, Jennifer, for this beautiful post !

  18. Both stories tug at the heart strings,we all have to let go sometime, it's not easy, but so wonderful when they come back!

  19. Oh Jennifer, what a delightful lovely that you rescued the robin and how SWEET of hubs to put that note in. Awwwwww....sobs.....

    Little birds do feel as light as air don't they, I dread having to ffed unfeathered blue tits and wrens,,,,they are TEENY!

    Now....what happened about the rock, I love the sound of that expedition, had me smiling!xxxx

  20. Such a nice post. Your husband is a rare breed!

  21. I read this post, this morning, it was so wonderful..and then Blogger is having a hissy fit, and it doesn't let me leave comments. It seems fine now.

    I loved it...sincerely loved it.


  22. What a BEAUTIFUL story 'bout the robin!

    As for the packed lunch, well... All I know is that if peeper's packed me a lunch and put some nip in a separate pocket, I WOULD WANNA KNOW.


  23. Such gorgeous pictures to accompany this lovely story of your baby bird flying finally....

  24. What a wonderful story! It is so hard to see our young ones leave the nest, but fly they must. I remember when my daughter left for Oregon four years ago. Not only did we have to adjust to an empty nest at last, but I was so worried about her being alone so far away. As it turned out, it was the best thing she ever could have done. She came home again after getting her degree, but she's getting ready to leave again...hopefully, this time will be easier on me.

    Congrats to your son on his new job!

  25. You've tied together two wonderful stories here, Jennifer. Yes, it's hard to see our children leave the nest. Your husband sounds so caring. One day your son will realize what treasures you are. Glad the robin seems to have recovered from his fall.

  26. I think every parent can relate to these intertwined stories Jennifer. Congrats to your son on his first "big" job and on you both for a good job raising him. It's very apparent you have lovingly cared for him ~ he's so lucky.

  27. Hi Jennifer
    Yes, it certainly is hard when the kids (or especially just one kid) is all of a sudden grown up and gone! I think it's always harder on the parents. We were eased into it with 6 week summer camps away when they were teenagers and then universities in Kingston (3 hrs away) and Montreal (6 hrs away).
    He will always be your little baby regardless how old he is. You have my sympathy but it sounds as if your home (and you as parents) will always be a wonderful welcome place to come "home" to. And trust me - he will.

  28. I am not a parent but a good friend and her husband just drove their only child and son down to North Carolina to begin medical school. Despite the achievement and promise his future holds they are struggling.

    Great story!

  29. How exciting for all of you in this next stage of life. So enjoyed the read. I bet he loved every bit of the lunch and had a warm spot in his heart knowing how much the two of you care. Let's hear it for hardworking parents and those who give robins a gentle helping hand.

  30. Despite all the ribbing your son gave you over the note & wipes, you know he would've driven to work with a smile on his face knowing he is so well loved. Wonderful post all tied up together in love and life :) Wendy

  31. Congrats to your son on his new job! I love that you took so much care in making his lunch. Growing up, I always made my own lunch, and a lot of our dinners too. Now that I am older, my parents cook for me all the time! And then they moved far away last month. Such is the ebb and flow of life.

  32. got tears! Could so relate. The note thing...had a similar feeling experience. Your son has a good sense of humour and that is a blessing.

    Robins...why is it we love them so... loving yet proud, handsome in their tuxedo outfits...always ready to graduate ;-)

  33. I loved your story about the robin and the one about your son. Is it not the simple things that mean the most?

  34. Blinking back tears... Why is this natural process so hard on our hearts? Love this story and the sweet message of wings of love.

  35. Thanks for your great stories, I can so relate to them although my only child is now 27 and left home when he was 19 to live on his own. I can’t believe it’s 8 years ago next month! That also means I have lived on my own for the last 8 years, even though my son only lives a few miles away and usually comes to see me once a week or so. I loved your textured photos, really beautiful!

  36. My recent robin rescue was not so positive. I noticed the poor thing in the middle of the road while biking to work. I stopped to pick it up, noticed its neck was badly damaged and could not find its nest. The best I could do was to get it off of the hot asphalt into a shady spot. It was not there the next morning.


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