Tuesday, August 8, 2017
My husband and I were eating breakfast a few mornings ago when he told me a story about a bird that we have seen and heard – the marsh wren. Jim proceeded to tell me about the male wren who builds it's nest about the size of a soft ball out of grasses and sedges. The nests are built in marshes attached to cattails or bulrushes. One male will build up to 7 and sometimes 10 partially completed nests in his territory before the female arrives. The nests are grouped together in a courting area. When the female arrives he sings to her, shows her the nests and if she likes one she might line the nest with extra grasses etc. Sometimes she will build her own nest if none suit her. That is why when you are out exploring a marsh you might come across some partially made bird nests.
Later that same day my good friend, the Blue Eyed Chickadee, told me that she was out on a birding/ biking adventure when she and her husband came across a Marsh Wren. It was in a wetland singing it’s little heart out. It held it's head high, it's mouth was wide open and it was perched with each foot on it's own cattail. They watched it sing for a few minutes. My friend said “it was the perfect Dan Busby photograph”. Dan is a local photographer who has a knack for taking pictures of birds and capturing their essence.
Later that evening I picked up a poetry book and opened it to this poem. And I knew in that moment I would write my article about the Marsh Wren. This poem called I Happened to be Standing by Mary Oliver and is from her book called A Thousand Mornings. In the poem she starts out questioning “where prayers go and what they do and who prays." She wonders if "a prayer is a gift, or a petition or does it matter?” And then towards the end she is reflecting on how she starts her mornings standing outside her door when she starts to hear a wren singing. She says in the poem that the wren is “positively drenched in enthusiasm” and wonders "what the singing is, if it isn’t a prayer?” And so she just stands and listens with her book and pen in the air. And that is how she starts her day. I thought to myself that it would be lovely if we all started our day drenched in enthusiasm.
My husband and I ride our bikes every morning and we often go on the rail trail. One morning we were delighted to come across a beautiful big slab of stone bench over looking a wetland at about Kilometre 4.8. It invites visitors to sit or stand and listen or look or both. It is a place you can hear and see wrens if you are very quiet. It’s also a place were could say your own kind of prayer or blessing of gratitude or just sit and be. These are great ways to start a day. Thank you to the county, and to all of the sponsors, for the bench.