Hatching the Egg

The bluebird nest in our yard this summer set me thinking. The eggs were stunning: the brilliant blue of a Lake Tahoe sky in a smooth, elegant shape to fit the palm of the hand.

Just like an idea for a story. It often seems marvelous – even perfect — when first conceived. But it has a long way to go. First, there is the writing of the story to be done. In many cases, it never reaches that critical point of birth, the cracking of the shell, the words on screen or paper. If it is born, worse problems may present themselves. Once written, the words may not dazzle us as the concept did in its idealized, unrealized state. Often the story is abandoned right there, out of fear that the final product will be a monster, something not even a mother could love.

Our four baby birds were ugly enough to make us wince when they were born, and one of them, lying in a sluggish heap at the side of the nest, hinted at disaster. But they were hungry, they ate, and they grew.

In the end, they all grew feathers, which eventually took on the magical blue and blushing orange of the ones their parents wore. Each one of the fledglings did in fact take to the air, and they lived for a time in the tree over our deck. There is nothing quite as lovely as a bluebird on a summer day.

I was glad their parents had the good sense to believe in them when they were still weak and awkward, when it was difficult to imagine that they could ever hold up their heads or grow feathers, much less fly. With proper care and feeding, patience and dogged work, the birds fulfilled the dream of the egg. A lot of stories can do that, too, given the chance.

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