Birds, Hope and Fern Shaming

The thing about spring in Georgia is that there isn’t one.

It’s cold one day, a little warm tease and then BAM. Hot. So a few weeks ago when we had a blip of a warm day I immediately drove to Home Depot to get some ferns. You see, I have been eagerly awaiting the spring, when the earth wakes up and shows off. Last spring we had the amazing experience of witnessing two different birds make a nest in our front porch ferns and it was incredible. Well, one of them was incredible and one of them was incredibly sad. You can read about last year’s nests here.

So when I heard the little birdies chirping on the this wanna-be-spring day I just knew they looking for a place to make their nests. I joyously parked near the garden area of Home Depot noting how unpopulated it was at the time. I found a bored looking older lady at the outside cash register warming her legs with a space heater. She looked a little surprised to have a customer but I went ahead and asked, “Do you have any ferns?”

She tilted her head affectionately and pressed her lips together prepping me for her response, “Honey, it’s too early.” I hung my head defeated (and embarrassed) “What do you mean it’s too early?! I said in my head. “I heard the birdies this morning! They need to make a nest and so I need to get them a fern AND THERE IS SPRING IN MY HEART!!!”

But I just choked out, “Oh. Ok. Well, when will you have them?” She told me they would have them in a couple of weeks, BUT I should still really wait until mid-April just in case we have another cold snap. I reluctantly thanked her, turned towards the parking lot and imagined her shaking her head slow and watching me walk away, “Poor girl doesn’t know the first things about plants.” Is probably exactly what she said.

So I went home and for the next week I listened to the pleading of the birds. I filled up my bird feeders and assured them that I would provide some more than adequate lodging very soon. I told the kids that we would have a birds nest this year and my husband reminded me of the sadness of last spring- when my middle daughter and I buried one of the nests full of baby birds. The momma was found not far from the nest on the ground-some animal had intercepted her before she made it home.

Yes it was sad, but I think it was this exact sadness that made me more hopeful than ever that this spring would be full of joy and life and baby birds. In fact, just as depicted in my favorite Pixar movie Inside Out, sometimes sadness is the avenue by which you arrive at life’s greatest joys. As exciting as it was to watch the first nest fill up with eggs and then witness the first flights, how much more exciting would it be this time around with a different perspective. A perspective of hope mixed with the reality that sometimes things don’t workout the way want them too. Because that is real life.

But when we give up hope that things can be better we give up on life.

I waited one week and journeyed back to Home Depot walking straight past the Fern Shamer Lady. I looked frantically around for ferns while avoiding eye contact with her. I found a different employee to ask, and he led me inside to a pillar of magical ferns. I swear I heard the hallelujah chorus and heaven opened up to shine a beam of sun on my ferns. I grabbed three and headed to a different register.

But she saw me. And can you believe she actually recognized me, judged me and shouted across the aisle, “Be careful! We may have another freeze!” The nerve! I paid for them and pretty much ran to the car never looking back. You’re not going to rain on my parade lady!! I’ve got spring in my heart, hope in my hands and birdies on my mind! I flung those ferns up on the hooks and even put out welcome home bird seed all over the front porch.

And in just TWO DAYS we had a nest!!  A beautiful, perfect, ready for babies nest. The kids and I were ecstatic. Great job Momma bird! It looks perfect. Welcome to the Clark house. We’ve been expecting you. Because no matter what happens in life our job is to hope and prepare and expect good things. So every day we check our nest, careful not to touch, and we smile with Spring in our hearts. Counting eggs and blessings.

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