Our neighbor, whose name sounds like Darren, is an artist, a musician, a man who is connected to nature, and a master builder. He builds things for his work and also from his heart.
Last spring, when I was finishing up with chemo, he offered to build us a redwood pergola off of the back of our house. He didn’t like the idea of us going through another Sugartown summer without a little more shelter from the sun. So he and Dennis discussed the design, and Darren got the wood, cut it, and got to work. He and Dennis built it together in a day. The pretty structure has changed our lives. We live outdoors once the heat comes to town.
As you can see, the structure’s got good legs for the luscious and showy passionflower vines to climb on with wild abandon.
Yesterday was a typical Sugartown afternoon. The kids were playing outside, and the adults were milling around, catching up, asking me about my chemo treatment (which was fine, by the way). Darren pulled up and announced he’d seen a baby crow that had fallen from its nest. He walked back to where the bird was, cupped it gently with his hands, and showed the kids how to hold a bird that was hurt. His working hands, toughened by the years of his art, calmed and soothed the bird instantly. The little thing held its mouth open, so Darren fed it some water, using his fingertips while J and Princess T looked on.
The kids’ hearts were all a-flutter. So was mine.
Then Darren went into his house and got little bites of food for the bird to eat. The kids tried to feed it turkey bits and raspberries. Meanwhile, the adult crows (its parents?) circled madly overhead, squawking. So Darren found a safe, quiet place to set the bird so it could try to eat in peace, and where the concerned birds overhead could see it and know their baby was safe.
The kids and D went to another neighbor’s house to celebrate a birthday. Pizza, cupcakes, laughter and chatter filled the house. At one point, Little J pulled his daddy aside and asked him to please take him outside to make sure that little baby crow was ok. Dennis obliged. But when they got out there, the bird was gone, as were the adult birds who’d been circling before.
Dennis said, “It looks like the baby bird is back with its mommy and daddy.”
“No, Daddy,” Little J laughed. “Those birds couldn’t carry that bird and fly away.”
Daddy replied, “You’d be surprised. Parents can do just about anything for their little ones when they need to. Anything.”
The little ones give you the strength. And the neighbors, with their open hearts, the shelter.