What’s a nest without a tree?

I was walking my usual walk the other day after a Nor’easter had blown through, its wind stripping the brilliant-coloured leaves from the branches, toppling trees that Hurricane Dorian had loosened and I came upon a small nest lying upright in the middle of my path.
Gracie sniffed at it briefly and then moved on to unearth other discoveries of greater interest to her, while I stood above the nest pondering its message.
I didn’t touch the nest, but I squatted down and looked at its intricate engineering, a feat achieved with beak and claw, the twigs bent and woven in a precise pattern that provided warm incubation to its inhabitants.
It looked desolate and lonely, much like the abandoned houses I see on my travels and feel compelled to photograph as if I might capture the essence of those who called the tumbling down arrangement of lumber and nails and hinges home, those homes with the front door missing or hanging open look as though the residents left in defeat, not bothering to shut the door, knowing they wouldn’t be back.
I stood for a long time and was tempted to return the nest to the tree, tempted to tuck it in among the branches for safe keeping as though that might welcome the bird back, might reverse what has happened to the planet, to the birds, to the bees, to the oceans, to all of it.
Rachel Carson was a marine biologist, writer and conservationist whose environmental urgings in her book, Silent Spring, created the environmental movement that we are aware of today, though she died without knowing her writings would create such focus.
Since her death in 1964, nearly three billion birds have vanished from Canada and the United States and Cornell University tells us “the very fabric of North America’s ecosystem is unraveling.”
It would be easy to pull the covers over my head and pretend I am not the problem, to cry out in childish frustration, claiming it’s not my fault, but it is my fault and it is your fault and it is our collective turning the other way and not looking at the truth face on.
The nest in my path seemed a silent begging, a whispered urging that I cannot ignore.
It is easy to feel overwhelmed and wonder how on Earth I might participate in change, what could I possibly do to help.
I remember being ridiculed when I proclaimed I would no longer accept the use of a plastic straw. It seemed like a valiant step and yet I was met with the comparison of bailing the ocean with a teacup.
But it is only one way to be a part of the solution. I remember when taking my own bags to the grocery store required real focus and memory and now it has become as automatic as wearing a seatbelt.
I can’t change how anyone else interacts with the planet.
All I can do is make my own promises and pledge my own awareness and tactics.
That’s all any of us can do and each tiny step taken joins in the global march.
wendistewart@live.ca

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