Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Mother's Day and Other Mothers

      Sunday was Mother's Day, but my daughter lives 125 miles away and it was her ex-husband's weekend with the kids, so even though she had them for the day (they're fair with each other about such things, and if Father's Day falls on her weekend, he'll have them for that day), it was too far for anyone to go for us all to spend the day together.  So Joe and I took my mother and our friend Caren, whose children live even farther away than ours, out for a festive brunch at a landmark Tucson restaurant, El Parador.  I'd forgotten how much I enjoyed going there - special occasion Sunday brunches sort of fell by the wayside during the frugal grad student years.  It was so nice to be back.  The food was great (and we all ate way too much of it), so was the service, and as my mom said, "It's like eating in a garden."  There were many families there, many with three or four generations around the table, and everyone seemed to be happy.

     At home, in one of the raised beds in the backyard, there's another mother.  For a couple of weeks, every time Joe or I would water that bed we'd flush a female quail. A cursory look revealed no nest, but a couple of days ago I went back there to cut back the chamomile, which I'd planted much too close to a rosebush, and as I swept back the stalks I saw this depression in the soil and twelve perfect eggs.  We just hadn't looked closely enough.  Between the chamomile and nasturtiums that grew three times as big as the seed packet said they would, and with a thorny rosebush to protect them on the north side, these eggs are in a good spot, well-hidden in a well-fenced yard.  Now that we know they're there, we're more careful when watering.  Don't know if it would bother the eggs but we certainly don't want to drown the chicks when they hatch, which I'm afraid may be when we're on vacation.  But we'll alert the housesitter, and I know she'll be careful too.

     It's dangerous bringing young into this world, even in a sheltered space like our mother quail's nest site.  A couple of years ago a house finch nested in a big Boston fern that hangs in our front entryway.  We watched the four eggs, and then the babies when they hatched, until one morning they were all gone, mother and babies, well before they were ready to fly away on their own.  All we could think was that an owl or a hawk or a raven had flown in and gotten them.  But that same spring a dove laid her eggs in a nest in the pine tree in the front yard, at about my shoulder level, at the edge of the labyrinth, so on every circuit I got a good look at the whole family as I passed less than arm's length away from them.  It seemed like a more hazardous spot than the finch's nest because it was so exposed, but these babies grew up  safely and flew away on their own.  And now the wheel of the year has turned round again, to bring us flowers and nests and new life, and it is beautiful beyond words.

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