The Washington Post

Making Way for Feathered Friends

- — Mazel Pernell, Rockville

Summer begins officially today, but for Mazel Pernell, nature has postponed summer’s start a wee bit, and it’s just delightful.

For years before my recent retirement, I dreamed of sitting in the shade on my deck, lingering over The Washington Post, sipping my morning coffee, watching the squirrels and enjoying the beauty of my back yard.

So on the first warm day of spring, I scrubbed the deck furniture, washed down the deck surface, hung a couple of wind chimes and lined the deck with potted impatiens. I moved my ficus tree outside for its annual summer vacation. This was as close to a summer paradise as I could create right outside my kitchen door.

But I won’t be spending much time in my home paradise, at least not for a few more weeks. Thanks to Mother Nature, I have the best reason ever to stay off the deck.

A robin built a nest in the fork of my vacationin­g ficus tree. Fantastic, I thought! One step closer to a real paradise. But fearful of two-legged creatures of the human kind, the robin flew away every time I opened the sliding door to the deck.

Then one day I noticed a tiny, beautiful blue egg in the nest. Eventually there were three more. At the sight of those beautiful eggs, I decided that I would not force mama robin to abandon her nest again, even if that meant forgoing my deck for yet another spring.

Yes, I know that by the time her babies peck through their shell and mature enough for independen­t flight, the humid days of summer will be upon us. By that time, my deck will be a paradise only during the hours when I’m fast asleep. But how often am I afforded an opportunit­y to observe life on such an intimate level? As a mother and grandmothe­r, I know just how fleeting and precious an opportunit­y I have been given.

So for the next few weeks, mama robin and I will watch each other through the vertical blinds covering my sliding glass door. She reposition­s herself in the nest to keep an eye on me as I move around in the kitchen. She now trusts me enough that I can gently open the door to enjoy the spring breeze and she doesn’t fly away. When she leaves the nest to do whatever mama robins do, I seize the opportunit­y to water the impatiens and the ficus tree and to sweep the pine needles off the deck, then retreat to my kitchen to await her return.

Did I invite this inconvenie­nce? Not on your life. But I feel so blessed that this uninvited guest dropped in for a visit and plans to bring along her noisy babies. And I am more than happy to accommodat­e her for an extended visit.

 ??  ?? Mazel Pernell ventured out with a telephoto lens to photograph a robin and her nest.
Mazel Pernell ventured out with a telephoto lens to photograph a robin and her nest.
 ?? PHOTOS BY MAZEL PERNELL ??
PHOTOS BY MAZEL PERNELL

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