I wondered if you could feel me – you little blue egg – feel my presence, my energy. I could feel yours, just as surely as if I’d been able to see the face and touch the wings within you. I held your warmth, your bit of weight, your smooth oval shape, tucked in the hollow of my hand. And, for some reason, I whispered in your presence, and I hoped you could hear my voice and feel my breath and sense my awe of you.
The tiny blue egg, not much bigger than my thumb, the color of sky, but paler, fresher, was lifted carefully from its nest to rest a moment in my human hand. It was quickly returned to its birthplace, of course, to finish growing inside. Something within me wanted to believe that something within it would somehow remember this encounter.
Then there was another gentle interaction with another pre-birth life – a slightly larger, all-white egg this time. And this time, the mother watched. Scolding, but not particularly angry. Perhaps more disturbed from her own rest than concerned for the welfare of her young. Surely, she was remembering, knew in her heart that she and her brood were safe and connected to these human beings.
The first nesting family I met were Eastern bluebirds; the second were wood ducks. And both had found sanctuary at Aiken Equine Rescue – at the request and under the care and watch of the South Carolina Bluebird Society, an affiliate of the North American Bluebird Society.
This was my first encounter with the group – with local President Mike DeBruhl and “Trail Boss” Terry McGrath. They are wonderfully kind people, anxious to share their knowledge and appreciation for all birds in general, ducks included, and bluebirds in particular – those beautiful, gentle songbirds, once so close to being gone forever, but now finding their way back.
I had heard vaguely of their work in Aiken, but when I discovered that one of their sites for building habitats was at Aiken Equine Rescue, it resonated in my heart with their inherently perfect alignment.
I already knew Aiken Equine Rescue for its peace and healing relative to horses and humans and a few other individuals. There are thoroughbreds and donkeys and occasional dogs. There are hurting children and broken military veterans and those who are searching for purpose in their lives. There are lives that are close to extinction – as well as the ones who are willing to walk along with them to the very edge and back again. And none fail to find an amazing spirit-filled respite among its hills and open spaces, its animals and its inexplicable energy. For some, it’s a release from pain; for others, a replenishment of hope and value, a discovery of renewed dignity and direction.
In Native American cultures, bluebirds and wood ducks themselves represent transformation and rediscovery, emotional comfort and nurturing, protection and connection. The color blue further speaks to calmness, spirituality, and truth. (Perhaps that also accounts for an old superstition that says if the first bird a woman sees on Valentine’s Day is a bluebird, she will marry a happy man.)
Just a few decades ago, bluebirds were disappearing completely from the environment of the earth and the beauty of our lives. Yet they have been saved – because of people who joined together to find spaces for them, and build habitats for them, and watch over their nests, and nurture and connect with the birds one-to-one. Aiken is the only place in South Carolina designated for this work by the international organization, and there are numerous havens hosted throughout this caring community.
Those same few decades ago, writer Jacques Deval once had reason to say: “God loved the birds and invented trees. Man loved the birds and invented cages.” Now, thankfully, you little blue egg, we have reason to add: Aiken loved the birds and gave them sanctuary.