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A ray of sunlight touched the left corner of the newspaper box where two Carolina Wrens—Wren and Birdie—lived. Upon awakening, they usually chirped a happy melody to give thanks for the new day and to help raise the sun higher into the sky.
But on this Wednesday morn, they sang more from habit than joy. Sweetie, the last of their brood, had flown away the day before yesterday. Like her brother Christian and her sisters, Babe and Norah, Sweetie would never return.
Both Wren and Birdie had wanted to pass something of lasting value (such as gratitude) to their young ones. Since none of their young even said good-bye, they didn't feel they had.
Birdie turned toward Wren and cheeped, "It's time for us to start anew."
Wren arched an eyebrow and nodded he understood.
He took a single hop to the front of the newspaper box, leaned forward, lifted his tail, and took flight. Banking right after launching, he flew to the backyard of the house belonging to the newspaper box.
Wren began gathering twigs and placed several in a small crabapple tree in a briar thicket next to a wood stack. Then he put others in a pot of pink geraniums sitting atop steps leading down from a large deck at the back of the house. Finally, he placed twigs between boards at the top of a pergola at the far end of the deck where a tall blue spruce sheltered the pergola and the twigs he placed there.
With his early work done, Wren flew back to the nest to get Birdie. She had a choice to make.
They flew from the newspaper box together and made their first stop at the top of the wood stack. Wren pointed a wing toward the thicket. Birdie hopped to the ground for a closer look.
"No," Birdie chirped. "The thicket and the crabapple tree are fine. But I don't like the wood; it's a haven for snakes. I won't chance raising children here."
He escorted her next to the geranium-filled flower pot. Birdie nodded approval. Then she remembered the menacing cat next door. "Better not let an eye for beauty cloud our judgment, emotions can be deceptive," she said. "I'm sorry, Wren, but it's another 'No'."
"Don't apologize, Birdie. You always know how to choose the best place for us to build our nest," Wren chirped.
Onward they flew to the end of the pergola. "It's high and away from the dangers of snakes and cats. I really like the view," Birdie cheeped. The gleam in her eyes told Wren all he needed to know.
With the decision made, Wren and Birdie set to work. Twig by twig throughout the day they weaved. They rested only to eat a few insects for lunch. By nightfall the nest was nearly complete so they decided to sleep there and finish up the next morning.
After they sang forth a new day, they rearranged a few twigs, added a few more to fill gaps in the circular nest, and finished by placing found animal hair in the center. What a soft bed the hair makes, Birdie thought.
Although the nest seemed 'move-in ready,' Wren didn't feel it was. He wished he could do something more to make the nest special for Birdie. Suddenly, he spotted a purple ribbon drifting slowly across the backyard. As it danced up and down in the wind, Wren knew what he must do.
He flew to the ribbon and tucked it in his beak. He lowered his tail, raised his head, and thrust upward. But there was so much drag he couldn't get airborne.
Excerpted from The Gift Within by JAMES D. LONG, Mary Connors. Copyright © 2013 James D. Long. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse.
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