I know: three dogs are too many dogs in the yard; and the giant house going up down the street is too near the little nestbox, never mind the beeping, growling trucks and the bellowing carpenters and the scrambling roofers with their machine-gun nails; and the miniature forest behind us still harbors agile-fingered raccoons and rat snakes thick as my arm; and a Cooper’s hawk still patrols the massive pine tree on the other side of the house.
But consider: the dogs are old, every last one, and spend their days lying in the sun, their glad bird-chasing past long gone. And the noisy builders, too close now in house-scouting season, will be gone by nesting time. Look at the predator baffle, much larger now, and gone now is the brush that sheltered house wrens.
Oh, how I wept about the house wrens. A friend tried to comfort: “Everything that lives must die, and everything that dies must be eaten.”
Look: see the sturdy birdbath I’ve moved to your side of the yard, and the special feeder designed to hold live mealworms? The greatest token of my love for you is that every day I reach into a mesh bag full of live mealworms and pluck them out, one by one, and drop them into the ceramic cup in the feeder. The worms live in my refrigerator, where the cool darkness is meant to keep them in a state of dormancy, but oh my God they are not dormant. No, they curl their little segmented bodies around my finger, and they lift their little nubby heads and rebuke me with their nonexistent eyes, but I harden my heart to their plight and plink them into that little white up, and I walk away as they twist and curl around each other in search of purchase. They are my gift to you on these cold days when nary a cricket stirs in the dry grass.