Suzy's Blog/May/2007            Click for Suzy's Blog Summary

Suzy Smith
Mother Junco is flying from her nest like a launching missile every time we open the front door. Her destination, a nearby tree where she sits and scolds us for intruding on her territory. It‚s baby bird season, our garden full of feathered domestic activity.

For a short time in spring, we play the role of surrogate grandparents to these growing families. We hone our skills as our mother birds have no reservations about letting us know when we‚re doing it all wrong. Ms. Junco, from her tree, reminds us ˆ limit your comings and goings.

Critical to our role is where our mothers decide to nest. Sometimes they make disastrous decisions. We buy bird houses placing them in safe places hoping to influence their choices. They ignore them, insist on doing things their way. We adapt to their choices.

Mother finch was lured to a tiny, precarious ledge in a corner under the balcony. "Oh please don't do this," we pleaded. We pointed out the negatives. It was too small, airless right there under the ceiling with a long fall to pavement below. She persisted, after all, what did we know about raising baby birds? The first day it hit 90 degrees, the nest was unusually quiet. Granddad worried, got extension chords, set up a fan tilted upward hoping to provide circulation. We watched and waited. All seemed well. But, the following day we found one of the babies dead on the pavement below the nest. It was hard not to say, "We warned you." Instead, Granddad got thick Styrofoam and covered the ground below the nest, making a soft landing pad. He looked at the fan with its menacing blades and covered it with netting. We watched and waited, available if needed. We weren't. Mother finch proved to be very responsible, raising the rest of her brood without mishap.

So soon our babies are out of the nest, on the ground learning to fly. Another generation is taking its place in the world and we have had the joy and pain of participating. Hopefully our human family is reaping the rewards of what our birds have taught us.

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Suzy Smith
When I was a little girl, Mother played with me, games of badminton, croquet, cards and best of all piano duets. We talked about everything, giggled, won, lost, and were pals.

She mothered all those animals I promised I would take care of and didn’t. The ducks, Peter and Peggy, the two dogs and a variety of fish, mice and guinea pigs. She didn’t just feed them, she nursed them through serious illnesses.

When I was a teen-ager, she baked a cake every day for my gang of friends who stopped by regularly on the way home from school.

When my feelings got hurt, she counseled “Consider the source,” an early awareness that sometimes it’s not about you.

She was a devoted audience, always interested in hearing about my day at school, which I related in minute detail from the kitchen stool while she made dinner.

She hadn’t planned on being a Mom. She was going to be a concert violinist. Somewhat of a child prodigy, she spent her youth practicing eight hours a day, performing locally, and, in her late teens, studying on scholarship in Prague with the famous violin teacher of her day. Then she met my father and her life took a sudden turn, the violin taking a secondary role to wife and mother, a transition that wasn’t always comfortable.

Probably she had no idea where to begin this new life, she was so minimally equipped for reality, but she got some important things right. First, there was no question that music was going to be part of our lives. Second, her approach to motherhood was one of laissez faire. We simply unfolded with her support. If something interested us, she saw that we had the necessary equipment and teachers to pursue that interest. Nothing was too outrageous, even my singing lessons. The message conveyed was, FIND OUT and BE WHO YOU ARE. Not a bad legacy for a Mother who didn’t know how.

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