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?
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.