My mother lives in a big house with a wonderful front porch that faces west and there is a large tulip tree in the front yard. This is important to know because we live in Missouri and the month of August can get unbearable. Almost all the time there is a breeze and shade and it is a joy to sit on the swing with her. Mom loves her front porch and the swing and all the hanging baskets of plants. The thing she looks forward to the most is when her summer guests arrive. This year they showed up as usual and took up residence in her hanging begonia.
Almost every year a pair of birds decide that Mom's porch is the best place to raise their young. They pick out the location--sometimes the north side of the steps, sometimes the south. They pick out the hanging planter...sometimes it's blooming, sometimes it is a fern. They proceed to build their nest in the middle of it, and lay eggs.
Mom watches her plants closely to see if there is any activity and when there is, she gets excited. In the past, she would always share with me that a nest had been built and tell me how many eggs had been laid, because everyday she would gently take the planter down, check the progress of the family, and then very, very carefully water the plant to keep it alive without drowning the young ones. As she ages, she doesn't trust herself anymore with this responsibility, so the job of keeping watch and watering the plant has become mine.
A while back, Mom announced that her summer visitors had arrived and showed me the plant they had chosen. I knew what to do. I carefully took done the begonia, and let her peek inside. Sure enough, a nest had been built. This time, both of us were excited. So every few days when I visited, she would have the water ready, I would carefully lower the nursery, and we would count eggs and water the begonia. One. Two. Three. Four. Five. The birds had laid five tiny little white eggs, and then Mom and I (and I assume the parents) waited for the special day.
I had to take Mom on an errand this morning and I almost forgot about the birds. She didn't. The water was ready and when I carefully lowered the nest we both got the surprise we had been waiting for. Instead of eggs there were five tiny little birds, dry, but almost featherless, all alive and gently moving.
They had not left the eggs very long ago. Both of us were very happy and excited. I moistened the dirt around the nest and put the planter back where it belonged. Another summer, another family of birds, and another special day for my mother.
Mom will enjoy this family for a short time as they grow and learn to make noise and then one day, all will be quiet again. We will be sad to find the nest abandoned but not for long. Mom will begin to look forward to next year and the time for her summer guests.