Cool air pushes in at the window, swirls across the floor almost visible in its sudden surge, riding currents created by a spring rain shower. The sky is heavy and dark through tangles of tree branches in the process of leafing out, the lively green hue of new leaves creates a filter for the light thudding down from the sky, lightening some of its weight making it oddly brighter amongst the trees.
Above the window, cranked out almost fully open, robins nest. It is their second nest of the season, their first was somewhere in the nearby woods, marked only by a single rounded piece of eggshell, a pale blue announcement on the forest floor amongst the brown, monotone fall leaves of last season.
I never found their first nest, and the second appeared quietly, without fanfare. I knew they were somewhere nearby, hopping about from tree to tree, dashing headlong across the ground outside our windows, standing at attention and marching with purpose after worms and bugs. But I could not pinpoint their nest until I opened that window one evening after the sun sank behind the distant woods and the air cooled enough to chase out the heat from the house after the first hot day of the year.
I grabbed the handle and cranked carelessly in the fading light of the day, eager to breathe in the fresh twilight air and was startled by a scrabbling from the shadows directly above the window, beneath the roof overhang. I had a split second to think perhaps it was a squirrel equally startled by the sudden flinging open of the window when a dark shape swooped down and away.
I followed the shape with my eyes to where it perched on a branch not too far away and in the fading light I could see it was one of the robins. “Oops, sorry little robin,” I said quietly to the room and backed away from the window, hoping I did not disrupt their home too much that they would not return.
A few days later I circled around the house outdoors to pinpoint their nesting place two stories up. I tiptoed into their zone so as not to upset them and craned my neck to see a tangle of grass and leaves overhanging a tiny ledge where it perched, snugged up against the wall of the house. And then I turned and tiptoed away.
The window has stayed open since then and I have seen the robins swooping away and back again, flashing rust orange past the top of the window, and I listen for the sounds of baby birds. Robins have nested in our woods every year. They have nested on different parts of our house. We have watched them command their little plot of land with military precision, including one year when the male fought his reflection relentlessly in one window of our home before finding a less crowded place to nest further off in the woods, but I have yet to see babies learning to fly.
So as the cool air swirls in with the pattering rain and the forest begins to fill up with green, I watch as one of the robins preens on a crooked tree branch outside the window. He ruffles his feathers in the warm rain, his rusty chest brilliantly orange, his beak a striking yellow against the dull of the day and I wonder if the other robin is sitting just above me in her nest, sheltered from the rain by the overhang of the flat roof and if in that nest she is sitting with a little clutch of tiny blue eggs.