Elizabeth Torres Evans
Of Straw and Twigs
Sunday morning in this the first week of March is beautiful. Beautiful in the promise of Spring with the clear skies, thanks to the recent showers. Beautiful in the damp smell of new growth…I won’t say grass, it’s weeds and it’s still green.
I walk barefoot across carpet, then wood floors, then carpet again in the kitchen. I am reminded of my mom who has tile floors in her spacious kitchen, and “islands” of cushioned mats from the entryway of the kitchen to the front of the dishwasher, to the front of the sink, to the front of the stove, to the front of the toaster oven counter, to the front of the refrigerator.
“Follow, follow, follow, follow the yellow brick road…”
Our galley-ish kitchen has one long runner, but as I stand in front of the Kurig I am reminded to my mom’s “stepping stones” that keep the chill of the floor from her feet.
It’s thirty-nine degrees according to my watch. Yesterday is was in the fifties. No sitting outside with my coffee this morning. Part of my routine is to knot the sheers I have hanging over the two glass window borders to our front door. I check the left top of the porch post and the nest is empty. I check the right top of the porch post and startle a red-headed finch and it’s mate.
Minutes later I check that right side, carefully moving the sheer a bit, and see both birds pecking at the mesh screen we had placed there five years ago to keep the babies of another set of bird parents from falling out of the nest to the ground below.
I called it “The Spring of Dead Babies”. We still had “Sister” our huntress who found the rabbit’s nest and brought us a dead bunny. Then another dead bunny. We knew she was doing what instinctively animals do, even domesticated animals, but that and the growing hatchlings straining the nest their parents built, the sides giving way and falling to the ground, broken bodies…I had a bit of a melt down. I begged my Marine to secure screens on each post so hopefully any future deconstructing nests could have support.
It worked. Carolina wrens build their McMansions on the right side and more recently the finches built on the left. No catastrophic loss of baby bird life since the screens and Sister, long since gone to hunting grounds in the sky, has not disturbed the rabbit nests.
It was the future parents finches pecking at the mesh screen that made me think of my husband and I and our journey. The birds were trying to move the mesh, thinking it was pliable, as twigs and pinestraw would be. I wondered if they would give up and build elsewhere. I wondered had my Marine and I given in to the hard work of our marriage, what would have happened…were would we be?
Marriage is hard enough. Marriage to a PTSD veteran adds a whole other layer of challenges that test your commitment. Throw in a mixed-race marriage in the South, where I am the square peg that won’t fit into the round hole. My husband’s family thought I was related as I resembled cousins on one side, the hundred-year law-firm partner would pass me in the hallway and not speak to me. Add my own strong personality as a proud Chicana, a workaholic, a “resolutionist” of most everything thrown my way, but under it all have unresolved recovery, dependency, and self-worth issues of my own - it makes pecking at the foundation a knee-jerk reaction. Is this bond between us strong enough to work? Will this seemingly flimsy foundation hold? Why can’t I move this immovable object?
Twenty-five years this September we were married in a pager shop in Oceanside, California near the pier. Even that night, “flight-mode” was in place. Twenty-four years ago we moved from California to North Carolina. This summer we will have been in this house for seventeen years.
“There’s no place like home…”
The straw and twigs have held.
We are strong enough.