A few weeks ago, Brian won a gift card in a golf tournament. He went to the store, and came home with a craftsman-style birdhouse and a sign that said “Good people drink good beer.

So clearly, only the necessities of life.

On a Saturday afternoon, he went to the forest on the hill behind our house, tinies in tow. He wanted to hang that gorgeous birdhouse on a tree in there. I was of the opinion that we should stick the birdhouse on a stake, on the fence, or on the deck perhaps, anywhere but on a tree in the middle of the public forest.

But he wouldn’t be moved, he wanted that birdhouse in the middle of the forest. He carefully measured the exact tree from our bedroom window, because he wanted to see it when he was laying down in bed, he wanted his eyes to find it in the morning light.

Noisy and crashing, the explorers pushed through the bracken and blackberry bushes, hacking a path through the dense undergrowth. The tinies stuck their hot feet in the creek behind the fence, Evelynn was barricaded on the deck, hanging onto the railings like a prisoner in for twenty, and she wept her small yearnings to be with them. I stood on the deck beside her, he stretched his tall frame out on a six foot ladder in the middle of a forest, hollering questions about whether or not it was straight. Who can tell from here? I shot back. He laughed.

He nailed the birdhouse to the tree, climbed down the ladder, brought home the tinies, filthy and wet and joy-filled.

There hasn’t been a bird in the damn thing yet.

Anne figures that birds aren’t inside the birdhouse because fairies figured out it was the nicest house in the forest, and took up their residence. Now she spins elaborate tales about Tinkerbell, and when the wind swirls through the trees, she muses that Vidia must be visiting for the day. Every day, I see that birdhouse out of my kitchen window, I see it when I go to bed at night, a small white and blue birdhouse, in the middle of a forest, empty and beautiful, our own road to nowhere, the birdhouse without birds in a forest behind our fence, public land.

I asked him if he wished he’d listened to me (I’m not above a good “I told you so” now and then…).

Not a bit, he smiled. It just makes me happy to see it out there, even if that’s the only reason it’s there, it’s just for us to see.

Friends come over, and they always spot it out there, their delight at an elaborate birdhouse in the middle of the trees makes it evident that he was right, and what would love be like without space to be delighted, to do things that don’t make sense just for the fun of it?Β 

Last night, I was awake in bed, enjoying the still house, he was sound asleep, feet sticking out the covers, too long even for this gigantic bed. I glanced out the window into the summer night, I could hear the owls swooping out back, their enormous wings sweeping and moving the leaves, their screeching call. There in the dark green forest, a small wink of white, a light in the darkness, a bright spot in the night, a home for fairies, perhaps, but it was just for us to see together, a gift.

I understood at last, and when I shifted in the bed, he reached out for me, even in his sleep, as always.

But the Good People Drink Good Beer sign is still headed for the garage.



In which I think we should do it anyway
In which I simply get to work
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  • My kids all just built birdhouses with their grandpa and they are so cute. But they’re disappointed that nothing is nesting in them. My 6 year old wanted to build a nest for the birds. I told them that birds probably won’t move in until next spring when they want to lay eggs. I like the fairy version much better!

  • Beauty.

  • JennaDeWitt

    Fairies. For sure. πŸ™‚

  • the Blah Blah Blahger

    Birdhouses always make me think of my grandpa. Before he lost his battle with cancer many years ago, he would tinker about in the garage, building small houses for birds. After his death, my mom took them all and had them mounted in her english garden. They don’t really make sense there…but after reading this post, I’m come to the realization that when she’s in her kitchen, cooking or washing dishes, she can see them all surrounded by beautiful flowers. And in that beauty, she sees her father.

    Thanks for that…

    PS – I LOVE the beer sign.

  • Oh what beautiful life here…

  • Heeheehee at the last line. πŸ˜€ Beautiful photos, and such a fun story. I love this line, so similar to what I’m thinking lately: what would love be like without space to be delighted, to do things that don’t make sense just for the fun of it?

  • Wendy Douglas

    Birdhouses are one of the love messages my hubby offers frequently. It all started when I told him how much I love seeing the birds in my Abba place. Next thing I knew birdhouses and birdfeeders were being added in that space. Now the birds come often (along with a few squirrels) and I am reminded of the messages of love from both Him and him.

  • hopejem

    You made me chuckle, smile contentedly and chuckle again. I love that is is just for you and yours. That is love.

  • Jennifer

    I am always amazed at the seemingly out of character and crazy things that my husband does…only to find out how true, beautiful and loving he really is. (Though I’m with you, some things still need to be kept in the garage!) This was a wonderful reflection of that reality which we tend to forget in our everydayness. Thank you for sharing it.

  • You could always put the beer sign next to the birdhouse?

    Though this story was about a birdhouse, there is something to be said for trusting another person’s instincts…

  • Sweetness. I love it. And I do hope a bird nests in the nice home someday. Sometimes it takes a while.
    We had a little birdie nesting right outside our bedroom window for a while this summer. It was lovely. But also annoying. She seemed to be threatened by us being right under her nest. Every morning at 5am she would chirp/shriek at us. It wasn’t a very pleasant way to be woken. Ha! We also have hummingbirds who visit a feeder right out our window. That is sweet to wake up to!

  • Helen


  • So Brian is a man of whimsy. And good beer.

    Good combination. I can see why you married him.

  • Laughing. We have similar husbands I think – good, joy loving men. And I have a giant stuffed (mounted?) fish hanging in my garage.

  • chaplainlady

    Lovely, Sarah…and as an old birdwatcher/ nest box builder, we’ve discovered it takes a year, minimum, for birds to finally nest in a box or house. I think it’s something to do with getting use to seeing it around but that’s just a guess :0)

  • Wendy

    Sarah, I love the idea of fairies taking up residence in empty birdhouses. As Chaplain lady commented, it takes a while for birds to discover a new nest box. What better reason – but to wait for fairies to move out? I will think of that when ever I encounter an empty birdhouse!

  • Beautiful story…and it really is the small things in life that we remember….