Wednesday, June 8, 2011

A single blue robin's egg

Lately, my wife and I have been faced with a minor dilemma with our hanging Fuchsia plant on our open front porch. The dilemma is simply that a local robin has chosen this plant as an ideal site to build her nest, and all of our efforts to dissuade her from this agenda have been in vain--including removing the nest-in-progress altogether and dumping it on the ground, and flooding it with water when we watered it.

Fuchsias need lots of water--they are rainforest plants, which require the equivalent of monsoon rains in order to flourish. So we were concerned--and still are concerned--that the robin would abandon its nest, once it saw how frequently it was threatened with a flood of water and with humans passing by regularly. But our efforts at discouraging this particular robin couple were in vain--they patiently built a new nest anyway. We did, however, move the plant across the porch, farther from the front door, so it would be disturbed less frequently. We believed--again in vain--that if we moved it, the robin would be frustrated and think it disappeared, and would go find a new nest site.

Not so: this morning when I went out to check it, I peered into the hanging pot and saw a single blue robin's egg in the middle of the nest!

At that point, my growing frustration transformed into something a lot closer to what Pema Chodron terms "original bodhichitta"--that is our innate capacity for empathy, love, and awe. So I went out with my 3/4 gallon plastic milk jug and carefully watered the Fuchsia, this time being careful not to let the water level go above the nest. The robin had assisted in this effort, building the floor of the new nest just above the soil (supported by the chopsticks that Ann had stuck in the pot to discourage birds from building nests!)

A single blue robin's egg is a deeply moving sight: the miracle of life, like a dewdrop reflecting the clear blue sky. I still worry that the robin couple will abandon their nest because of its proximity to meddlesome humans with watering jugs, but we will do our best to do right by both the Fuchsia and the robins, so that they can stay and raise their baby. We have no choice.

May these robins, parents and baby, know happiness and the root of happiness, be free from suffering, know the transcendent joy of flight, and the equanimity of knowing they are safe from danger! "Everything that lives is holy." --William Blake.