EMPTY NEST by Curt Swarm

Purple Martins Dispel COVID Blues


Curt Swarm, Empty Nest                                                                                   7-11-22

I had given up on the purple martins.  The sparrows and blackbirds seemed to be having their way with that expensive martin house I purchased.  It was a nice one, too, made by the Amish, and on a hand-crank pulley for raising and lowering.  Whenever I mowed, I lowered the martin house and cleaned out the sparrow and blackbird nests in hopes of attracting the passerine birds (birds whose feet are adapted for perching, includes all songbirds).  
To no avail.  The sparrows and blackbirds just moved back in and reset up housekeeping.  They seemed to think I had purchased that nice blue and white bird hotel just for them. 
Ginnie and I left for vacation in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming.  We promptly contracted COVID and had a miserable trip coming home.  In fact, I thought I was going to die, and wished I could.  Ginnie had a somewhat milder case, and did all the driving coming home—two days worth of I-80 gaiety.  Ha
When we got home and I took refuge in my recliner in front of our picture window, feeling sorry for myself, what did my dry, bloodshot eyes behold, but purple martins on the martin house!  I couldn't believe it.  But it sure was a happy, welcome-home sight.  It was like God saying, “Okay, you need to see this.  Behold nature's beauty and wonder.  Now get on the road to recovery!”  My mind was taken off my misery.
I think there's a life lesson in this, and at almost 74, I thought I was done with life's lessons.  Evidently not.  Apparently, all I had to do was quit fiddling with the martin house, go away and leave them alone, and let them work things out.  The martins and sparrows seem to be cohabiting together quite nicely, something I didn't know possible.  I didn't see any blackbirds.
As the week progressed, and I started feeling better, I noticed a blackbird came along and tried to sit on the roost above the martin house.  I mean to tell you the martins were all over that blackbird and drove it away.  I had read and been told by “purple martin experts” just the opposite—that blackbirds drove the martins away.  Shows-to-go me.  Let Mother Nature take care of things.  The martins and blackbirds and sparrows seemed to be able to work things out amongst themselves just fine.  I wish man could do the same.          
We've been invaded and attacked again this year by Japanese Beetles.  Our aronia bushes are covered with them—thousands!  I was hoping the martins might like to make a meal out of the Japanese Beetles, but no such luck.  The only way I know of to eradicate the Japanese Beetles before they completely strip the aronia bushes and grape vines, is to use a heavy duty insecticide.  I hate to do this for two reasons.  One: with the breathing difficulty I'm having because of COVID, I don't want to be inhaling fumes.  Masks help but aren't 100% effective.  Two: I don't want to run the risk of that insecticide harming the martins.  However, martins are air feeders, not ground feeders, so I might be alright.  I consulted one of my purple martin friends.  He assured me there should be no problem.   
Ginnie and I might have as many as eight purple martins residing in our martin hotel.  That means baby martins in the future.  Right? 
Ginnie and I used the COVID quarantine to review and edit the galley proofs of my new book, “Task Force IED.”  It's a never-ending exercise.  One review begets another, begets another.  Ginnie of course has the eagle eye, but I the author, have the final say.  I listen and take her advice under consideration.  She's an avid reader and I value her opinion. 
I was wondering when we would have time to do the editing, but like the martins, blackbirds and sparrows, all things get worked out. 
Have a good story?  Call or text Curt Swarm in Mt. Pleasant at 319-217-0526, find him on Facebook, email him at curtswarm@yahoo.com, or visit his website at www.empty-nest-words-photos-and-frames.com.

Empty Nest, Curt Swarm, opinion, editorial, Sunday, Pen City Current, Mt. Pleasant, Fort Madison, martins, birds, house, farm,


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