Empty Nest


Three of my empty nests – the top one on the square board is the one I found last night – the one above has nasturtium seeds in it)


Last night on our evening walk I found another one.


This nest was small and loosely woven with grasses and animal hair. When I picked it up it was so fragile I was afraid it would crumble like the mud – bottomed nest I found last week. I have picked up more empty nests during these last eleven months than I have ever found in my life during one brief period.


Last September I discovered that the supporting beams of my little cabin were crumbling under too much moisture; a problem that worsened dramatically during the four years I spent in Abiquiu New Mexico. One summer I never returned at all…


I immediately found a contractor who assured me he would do the work the following spring for a hefty price, after shoring up the timbers for the coming winter. Shortly thereafter I left for New Mexico. However, by then it was impossible for me to absolve myself from taking full responsibility for the state of my little house. I had abandoned her. At one point I even put the house on the market, believing I would move to NM permanently.


Somehow I “forgot” that I belonged to this land; that I am a North Country woman who couldn’t simply leave either her land or her home without suffering dire consequences. For all the years I have lived here I have known that the house lived too – literally. When it rains her beams swell; in dry weather she breathes well. This house is ensouled. Unlike many other folks, I am wed to the powers of place and this modest log cabin.


Last winter I experienced a reckoning, as it became clear that staying in NM was never going to work for me for a multitude of reasons. Curiously, friendships I thought I had made began to dissolve; one almost invisibly. The changes were subtle but I was keenly aware of one particular shift by early December – they also occurred with other people. My closest neighbor and I rarely saw each other; we now led totally separate lives.


I spent the winter isolated on a level I hadn’t experienced before. This was a strangely positive experience because it opened the door to allow the Powers of Nature to guide me, and even before the Covid virus struck I knew essential ties had been broken.


Within a three – month period I found three intact birds’ nests, no small feat in the desert where the west winds are relentless, shattering branches, and ripping away foliage with impunity. To find a whole bird’s nest was a rarity; to find three raised serious questions. Of course, I thought about my little cabin and was struck by the correspondence between my empty house in Maine and these empty nests…Nature was communicating with me on a level I couldn’t ignore.


I missed the obvious fact that I was being emptied


When I returned to Maine in April I discovered almost immediately that the contractor had backed out of our agreement. Then I began an odyssey to find someone to do the necessary work. Building new houses in this area was occurring at such a furious pace that every contractor was booked for the year. To find anyone who would do a job like this one appeared to be impossible. Endless phone calls with no response became the norm during the course of spring and early summer.  Feeling quite desperate, I worked hard to keep myself from going under. I had been told that the cabin would not survive another winter.


I continued to find more empty nests.


One day I met a young man on the road who happens to be a new neighbor. Because he had a sign on his truck that advertised that he was a carpenter I mentioned my plight and asked him half heartedly if he knew of anyone who could do the work I needed. Much to my astonishment he responded that I should call his boss….


When I did, Michael came to the house, looked at the job and told me he thought he could fit me in this year. A miracle. It was almost July.


Today is the first day of September, my birth month, and last week I was given a quote I could afford and told that the work would begin soon.


When I found the little tattered nest yesterday I thought again about the synchrony between the collection of empty nests I have acquired (10 in all – maybe) and the hope that this crumbling nest will finally be re-woven from the ground up, receiving the structural help she so desperately needs.


To be emptied is the prerequisite to being filled (repaired), loved, supported in ways perhaps beyond my present imagining…

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