Animals Teach Us about Nesting

Pearl knows that nesting is important!

People who don’t live in the tropics year-round say they’d miss having four seasons that are separate and distinct from one another. I love warm weather and despise being cold, so that’s not a problem for me. And it’s cool and breezy here at night, so I still get to tuck the doggies in with their blankets and favorite toys. (Getting tucked in is important!)

And yet, the lack of discernable seasons does cause a tiny issue, even for a sun-seeker like me. The thing is, we humans use seasonal awareness to help us remember things. Things like birthdays and anniversaries are easier to keep up with when the weather reminds you what time of year it is.

But where we live on the Big Island, every day is like every other day: Relentlessly balmy and beautiful weather with occasional “champagne showers” and rainbows is our default setting. Our rain is often like getting spritzed with one of those silly spray bottles with a tiny fan attached that you buy at Disney World. We do have torrential downpours in the rainy season—which we get instead of winter—but even that all-encompassing sort of rain comes and goes, so the space between downpours, rainbows, and sunshine isn’t something anyone here needs to angst over. (And nobody does.)

Bottom line: Life is great when the weather on any given day is freaking amazing, though I’m having a little difficulty remembering which season we’re in.

But if the weather doesn’t remind us of the seasons, the animals and plants do. Even here, the plants have fruiting seasons and dormant seasons when they send their energy underground to fortify their root systems. Even here, the animals have breeding seasons and nesting seasons and seasons in which they mind their own business. Even here, where we don’t have visible seasons, the seasons still exist, and they still rule us. Our minds and bodies adhere to seasonal cycles, even if we’re not totally aware of it.

In winter, hibernating animals and plants know when to go underground. But we do it too: In human terms, that may mean declining invitations so we can sit on the couch in our jammies and binge-watch The Office. It’s important to respect our urge to seek solitude, to rest and regroup. If we’re lucky, some of our ongoing responsibilities and obligations will go underground too. If we’re even luckier than that, our friends and family will understand and honor our need to spend time alone when we need it.

This past winter, I made the decision to take a hiatus from writing. Yes, we had a lot going on—still moving in, etc.—but then I always have a lot going on. It’s only as I’m sitting here writing this that I realize my body-mind-spirit needed a winter break even though we didn’t have screaming-cold weather to keep me housebound.

But now it’s spring, as I’m being reminded daily by the birds who are busy nest-building outside my window.

I’ve dedicated myself to the activity of lying in bed for at least a half-hour after I’ve opened my eyes each morning, so I can listen to the birds, watch the hibiscus flowers sway in the breeze, and meditate on the day to come. From my early-morning rolled-up-in-the-covers position in the bed, I can see the corner post of the lanai (AKA balcony) railing.

For the past week, this one sparrow has been perching on that corner post every morning and singing to his mate, who’s busy building their nest in the coconut palm. (He’s also warning other birds to stay away from their nesting site, so it’s not like he’s being a total slacker.) He’s guarding a prime nesting spot under a nearly impermeable cluster of young coconuts that will grow slowly enough to provide plenty of time, shade, and shelter for the birds to lay their eggs and raise their babies.

His early-morning song is important for him and his mate and the babies they will raise.

But it’s also been good for me to hear his reminder that it’s time to finish old projects, so I’ll have the space and energy to start new ones.

And ain’t it strange, but for no good reason, I climbed up from my underground burrow  in February and started getting busy. In March, I put all the framed photos and art we hadn’t yet hung on the dining room table. (Resurrecting one of the moving-in projects we never quite got around to doing last year.)

We haven’t eaten at the table since, but I am determined not to move those things off the table until we are ready to put them on the walls. In April, I signed up for a book-plotting class that runs through the month of April and into May. (Taking a new series idea through its paces.) I also entered last year’s books in a couple of Reader’s Choice contests, and offered to judge some, too. And even though I haven’t advertised my animal communication services for the past couple of years, new clients are finding me.

It’s like suddenly, the whole world has been put on notice: It’s time to sweep away the cobwebs that have accumulated in the corners of our houses and our brains. It’s time to sweep away anything that is keeping us from achieving the goals we’d put on snooze during the winter. It’s time to make new goals, rearrange our environment, and embark on a new journey toward wholeness and fulfillment. It’s spring! Time to start again, to build—or rebuild—and feather a nest that will embrace and nurture us through the rest of the year.

Turns out that we don’t need the weather to show us when the seasons change. And we don’t even need the plants and animals to remind us. Our body-mind-spirits know what to do and when to do it. But in case we’re determined to be deliberately obtuse, or to deny ourselves permission to do what needs to be done (whether that’s watching The Office in our Jammies or dragging out all the framed art that still needs to be hung), the animals and plants—and especially the birds—will remind us.

Happy Spring!

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