Returning to the Marion house is always a pleasure. I have loved this place for more than a decade, painting each room, moving furniture around, planting a garden, bringing to it bits and pieces of things that appeal to me. Walking in the door is like reuniting with an old friend: when I’m not here, I think of it often and wonder how it’s doing; when I return it’s as if I’ve never been away.
The first thing I did yesterday was check on the osprey nest outside our windows. The ospreys winter in the southern United States like most of the summer residents of Marion, and they return to the same nest every year, also like their human counterparts. The nest platform we built is only three years old and was unoccupied when I arrived, though there seemed to be more sticks and moss than last year. I stood at the window for a while, wondering if the pair who had been here before had found better digs someplace else. And then they showed up. They stood facing each other on the nest, swiveling their heads back and forth as if they were checking out the Woman at the Window (a book I am currently reading). I swear they were discussing me.
This morning one of the pair has been building up the nest, bringing sticks, grass and shiny things she fancied in trip after trip and then rearranging the chosen materials each time. It’s a painstaking task to move furniture when your only tool is a beak. Meanwhile, the other bird is sitting atop a nearby post eating a large fish. In the hour I have been spying on them, the pattern has been the same: fix up the house, eat a snack. Based on personal experience, I decided the nest decorator must be the female and the snacker the male. He likely also brought in the food. I know this is anthropomorphizing, but it was too easy to ignore. Alas, I was wrong. According to Cornell ornithologists, the male usually gathers the nesting materials and the female arranges them later. Apologies to my spouse.
I hope the ospreys will come to love their house as I love mine.