There was once a bird who wanted to make her nest the best and most beautiful. In the spring, all the feathered people of the forest returned to build their nests and lay their eggs. The forest was soon full of the chattering and cheeping and squawking of birds large and small collecting twigs and leaves and moss and fur cheekily stolen from the fur people. And the trees glittered with colourful plumage, and the leaves shivered as birds swooped and landed among them, weaving their homes to cradle their young.
the tale of the foolish bird
And the foolish bird tried first one tree, then another, then another. But she was not satisfied. The first tree had thorns. “This will not do, for these thorns will scratch my little ones and I.” And so she tried the next tree. Its branches were young and thin. “This will not do, for these branches will bend and sway in the wind too much and my little ones and I will fall.” The next tree was small. “This will not do, this tree is too short, and the foxes can reach easily and devour my little ones and I.” She went to tree after tree, and each was no better than the last, and sometimes worse. “This tree is too tall, my little ones and I will be burnt by the sun and frozen by the wind.” “This tree is too far from the stream where I catch fish, my little ones and I will go hungry.” This tree is too close to the river, what if my nest falls in?”
All spring and all summer she did this, as all the other birds laid their eggs and raised their young. Then one day, she felt a cold breeze on her feathers, and with horror she realised that summer would end soon. She raced back to the tree by the river, but it was full of nests of other birds and there was no room even for one more. So she went to the tree far from the stream, but it was full too. She visited all the trees she had discarded, but all were full of nests, and the cheeping of half grown chicks trying out their new wings. Even the thorn tree was full. And as the leaves began to turn and the air grew cold, the foolish bird grew desperate. Finally, she found a broken sharp stick in a crevice in a granite rock, a cold place where the wind rushed through, where foxes and wolves could easily find her, overhanging the rushing river. And she built her nest there. And she laid her eggs as all the other birds were teaching their young to fly in readiness for the long journey to the winter home. And as the other birds began to leave, she sat and shivered and her eggs grew cold. And when the snows came, the foolish bird froze on her foolish nest, and turned to stone. And if you pass by that rock near the river, you may see the outline of her etched into the rock even today, and be reminded that the search for perfection must be tempered with common sense or it will lead only to emptiness and sorrow.
All text and images © Christina Cairns 2011