Slice of Life: Paying Attention


“To pay attention, this is our endless and proper work.”
~ Mary Oliver ~

Yesterday while I was out walking, I came across a fallen bird nest. It’s been pretty windy lately, so it must have been blown out of the tree. It looked forlorn and out of place on the ground. There were no signs of any eggs, but I wondered if there were any in it when it fell. Maybe a hungry fox or raccoon stumbled upon it at just the right moment and gobbled up the feast waiting at their feet.

I wanted to take the nest. My students would love looking at the odd collection of material the mother used to build a home for her babies. The nest was made mostly of dried grass, with a few dead leaves and twigs. She’d also tucked in a fair amount of what at first I thought were feathers, but after looking more closely, I saw was fiberfill from a coat or a sleeping bag. A strip of blue plastic, maybe from a shopping bag, was also woven in.


Then I began to wonder about this mama bird. What went through her mind when she discovered her nest was missing? Did she look for it? Did she grieve for her hard work and her missing eggs?

I left the nest undisturbed. While I realize the bird can’t pick the nest up and put it back, she might be able to reassemble it bit by bit. I hope she will and that it will soon be filled with new eggs.

I’ve spent a fair amount of time writing and thinking about this nest in the past twenty-four hours. Many people would say that surely I have better things to do with my time. But I don’t think so. I’m working on two projects where these thoughts and observations might be useful. So I’ll tuck these thoughts away. I’ll know when the time is right to take them out again and weave them into a story or poem.

 Thank you to StaceyTaraDanaBetsyAnnaBeth, Kathleen, and Deb for this space for teachers and others to share their stories each Tuesday throughout the year and every day during the month of March. Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers to read more Slice of Life posts.

4 thoughts on “Slice of Life: Paying Attention

  1. I love that you are paying attention to the world around you so purposefully. I think it is important to notice the small things to balance out all of the large, looming, breaking news-ish things we are surrounded by. Thinking about that nest; how it was constructed, how it made its way to the ground, the bird who built it…is connecting you to the universe in ways that make you empathetic, considerate, and thoughtful. I’m inspired to go for a walk right now!! Thanks.


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