July Houseguests

This post originally appeared on One Minnesota Writer on July 8, 2020, as part of the Notes from the Pandemic series.

Our guest room has been empty of guests for months. My partner Mick uses it as a saxophone practice room most of the time. Even with the door closed, I can hear him all over our house, blowing jazz notes, learning new riffs, occasionally honking on just the mouthpiece just because. But the guest bed remains unused other than as a resting spot for the open saxophone case.

I really miss making dinners for more than two people, hosting friends and family for weekend visits, hearing another person besides Mick or myself stir within these walls. In the scheme of this pandemic, this is something I can live with, of course. Patience is simply what has to be put into play here.

Nevertheless, this week we became hosts to some houseguests. Not in our guest room, but in the birdhouse that hangs beneath our deck.

Mick recently – finally – set up an official home office downstairs, in front of the window that looks out beneath our deck and toward the many trees in our backyard. Monday, he sent me a text from his new office while I was on a Facetime call in my own office upstairs to tell me that birds had been going in and out of the birdhouse all morning. Tiny, noisy wrens zipped back and forth with pine needles and other materials that they stuffed through the birdhouse hole. Occasionally, they brought a stick that wouldn’t fit into the hole. If a bird could look disappointed, I suppose it might be then, trying to get something desirable for the nest only to discover it wouldn’t fit through the door, like an oversized couch that doesn’t go through a standard 32″ doorway.

For a while, Mick thought the wrens might be duking it out with a pair of finches who also wanted to live there. He said there was so much zipping in and out by small birds that he lost track of who was who.

Tuesday morning, we watched the birdhouse entrance. Sure enough, the wrens were there. One came out and flew away. A few minutes later, another wren poked its head through the hole and looked around before heading out for whatever bird errand needed to be done. We’ve heard them singing in that impossibly loud way wrens sing. Such volume from such tiny bodies. The wrens are sassy creatures who flit from spot to spot, wren arias exploding through the air while they elude us as we try to find them. They make us laugh when they suddenly appear right in front of our patio door or on top of the birdhouse they’ve decided to stay in.

These just might be the best houseguests we could hope for at this time. Cheerful, full of song, and staying many feet away from us.

Photos by KCMickelson.