Fear of Flying


“All changes are more or less tinged with melancholy, for what we are leaving behind is part of ourselves.”                            Amelia Barr (1831-1919)

You had to look pretty hard to find it, and to be fair, there aren’t too many places to hide a nest in a greenhouse. The hanging baskets stay far too wet from watering and it’s a bit difficult to balance even a few twigs on the thin metal girders or support braces. She actually chose one of the last spots I expected to find it…on top of a small flat flashing that protects the motor that opens the greenhouse roof for ventilation – a little used mechanism that cranks open in spring, and closes up again come fall. It was really an ideal location for a Robin’s nest; out of customer sight, under cover from the spring rains, a reasonable view of the sky and easy access for the parents as they flew in and out of the large side         doors with worms in tow. There were three chicks at first, but it didn’t take very long for two of them to make that leap of faith, about twenty feet down to the perennial benches below. I actually cringed when I saw one take the plunge out of the corner of my eye, but he seemed just fine and after a few more feedings from Mom, he was flying about in the greenhouse from girder to girder. But the one last chick stayed put, just peeking over the edge of his nest, as if afraid of heights. Over the next few days the parents watched over the other two as they fluttered about the nursery and despite their beckoning calls, the homebody refused to budge. So they changed tactics, they started feeding him less and flew to nearby cross-braces with worms in beak, as if trying to tempt him out – but it was all to no avail. Being good parents, they didn’t give in too easily and eventually ‘Mr. Stubborn’ had to resort to desperately calling out to be fed. It worked for  a couple of days but gradually the parents were spending more and more time with the two who were learning to fly.  Little by little, the mother (it had to be the mother, because no father could be that patient) coaxed him out of the nest with food and got him accustomed to looking over the edge or calling out to his siblings. The last time I saw him up there, his Mom looked to be literally pushing  him over the side – so I guess she must have succeeded, because the nest now sits empty. While all this was going on, I was experiencing something similar at home, as my eldest daughter had bought her first house and I was in the process of helping her move in. Unlike the Robins, I wasn’t really in a hurry for her to leave, but the time just seemed to arrive on its own accord. It’s funny how it never really sinks in while you’re packing or buying new furnishings, painting the kitchen or refinishing a desk to suit the new decor. We celebrated her first night in her new house with an impromptu dinner, but when I went home that evening and saw her emptied-out bedroom, it was the cat and I who felt completely     abandoned.


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