Birds | Home Renovation | Poetry

Memories, Kept Secretly

What we are given is taken away, but we manage to keep it secretly. We lose everything, but make harvest of the consequence it was to us.” – Jack Gilbert, “Moreover”

The Carolina Wrenn has been singing to me all winter. I thought he might have gone south to try the dating scene down there, but instead he calls out for companions here. Maybe the mild winter encouraged him to stay, or maybe it’s the seed I offer to the wild birds. Whatever his motive, I appreciate his distinctive voice in the choir of cardinals, blue jays and chickadees.

Things and people come and go in our lives, as we come and go from other people’s lives. We have images of old friends, our children as younger forces of nature, older relatives long gone from this world and of ourselves as very different people that flash in our memories. Every relationship is temporary; whether five minutes or fifty years. We live and grow and move on, and each experience and relationship brings a measure of depth to our own life. What do we offer of consequence in return?

This morning I’ll top off the feeders and leave the nest for a week of travel, leaving others behind to watch over things. The feeders will be close to empty when I return; the songs of the fed unheard. The irony isn’t lost on me. We do what we can to build things of consequence up in our lives, and these things enrich us on our own journey even if we don’t always fully experience it. I’ll leave sore all over from a full day of labor on renovation of a bathroom. I must admit the new floor looks good. I always say I’ll never do this again but deep down I like the work and the feeling of accomplishment for having done it myself. I look around at this nest and mentally check off the hours of work I’ve put into it over the years. The bathroom is just the latest project. Eventually, inevitably we’ll move on to other projects, or another house, and this will just be another memory, kept secretly in our minds, with old friends and old relatives, our younger children and maybe, if we’re lucky, the unmistakable song of a Carolina Wrenn.

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