Ramblings from the Cove...

May 2011

By Lars Gren

What an enjoyment it is to see new life and, even though April left us with a white covering, the streams of sunlight was strong enough in early May to bring forth the tightly curled leaves of the Hostas as well as the “stiff spears” of Iris. Along with the snow leaving was also the oft remark by Elisabeth as we stepped outside, “Oh, it’s so cold.” Danielle, who in June will have been with us for a year, was pleased to see a robin or two. She finds it fun to watch as they hop about, cocking their head from side to side as though listening for the noise that a busy earthworm emits tunneling its way to whatever prey earthworms find delectable. How quickly they can spear one as they proudly hop on.

For me, there was a disappointment on the 3rd of the month when I happened to cast a look out the front window towards a certain cedar tree that has, under the branches, a very neat hole that is the opening to the labyrinth home of a woodchuck. Each year I deal with these pests. Normally, they appear prior to May but none had so far come out and I hoped for a year without a sightings but on this very view there it was a fat one waddling up the slope ever listening and looking for danger, at which time they move as “greased lightning.” Horrors, where is the friendly trap or will the dispatch be by another method? The sighting darkened my day, but then Friday the 6th brought joy at hearing the sharp staccato notes (the sound via the bird book is “Tea-Kettle, Tea-Kettle, Tea Kettle,” how they hear that is beyond me) of the Carolina Wren returning to the nesting house. Wonder if it is the same pair or perhaps one of last year’s clutch returning? The sound was very near to the box and it took awhile for me to spot the wee bird sitting in the midst of the pine branches with barely his head visible. It was only when he stretched his head and I could see the vibrations of his throat that I got a fair look at him. As I stood there, he became aware that there was an intruder watching him. It put him on alert to signal his “love” with a different sound, then silence and I could see him no longer. Off to the side my eye caught a flash as the female winged into the box to begin housecleaning—I suppose—to set the place in order for the nesting. I left and the song was again in the air.

It was George, who during the winter of ’09, had given us the bird house. We had met him at Blueberry Rehab Center. Elisabeth had been there for some days after the fracture of her femur. Building bird houses had been his hobby and he had built hundreds selling some and giving others as gifts. He was a hunter, a man from down-Maine, his accent announced that. It was in a deer-stand one day when he decided to get off the stand, not realizing that his leg had gone to sleep he stood up—the leg gave way—George fell about thirty feet to the ground and from that time spent 40 or so years of his life in a wheel chair or hospital bed. Prior to that day he had built his own house and then a lobster boat, for his living came from the sea. Clamming and lobstering was, for him, a livelihood. After his accident he continued to fish for bait to give to his lobstering buddies. As an independent down-Mainer he had a “can-do spirit.” He was not reticent about giving his opinion especially about rehab centers, for he had spent a total of seven years in various ones.

George had put a hole in the birdhouse that would easily allow a sparrow to fly in and take it over. Next to woodchucks, I list sparrows as a non-favorite so I thought to close the hole a bit. But last summer I noticed that the wrens were in the house. There was a narrow slit at the top side of the house and one day I saw the wren fly full speed into the slit—what skill. In the fall I tried to poke my finger into the hole that was meant for an entry and could not do so. It was only then that I realized that the wrens knew of the danger of a large hole and had filled the box with small sticks only leaving enough room for a comfortable home on what might be called, “the second level.” I never got to tell George of the wren’s novel work of blocking the hole for he was moved from a rehab center to a Boston hospital when his kidneys were shutting down. We were not to see him again, for on May the 2nd George died.

Our conversations had centered mainly on what was passing rather than eternal. We had watched the documentary, Through Gates of Splendor, but what his thoughts were could not be brought out. It seems ironic though that his passing coincided so closely with the wren’s arrival. We’ll miss George, though we barely got to know him. His funeral was on the 7th, the day after the wrens had returned.

And that’s it from The Cove.

Ps. Two or three out of the ten or so who slog through these Ramblings let me know that I don’t tell much about the two of us. At some time in ’11 I’ll try to jot a few lines from our everyday life at The Cove.

And that’s it from The Cove.

God bless y'all,

Lars

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