“There is nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it’s going to be a butterfly.”
I do not know why I left the dead plant hanging on the back porch.
Previous owners placed it on the hook under the eaves, and had forgotten it. When we moved into the house, I saw it there, its brown, crispy, lifeless stems sticking out from dried up soil. I arranged the outdoor chairs and wrought iron table near it, swept summer debris from the planks of the deck under my feet, all the while, the abandoned basket swaying forlornly in the autumn breeze.
I think somehow, without consciously doing so, I had a secret wish that the neglected basket would surprise me with signs of life in the spring. Several times since then, when seeing it, I’ve told myself, “You really should take that old thing down from there, it is such an eyesore.” But again, some yearning, inner intuition must have intervened, and it remained where it was, waiting for a second chance.
There are times I’ve been accused of being naïve. Some say that it is foolish to place hope in things that seem beyond repair. I wonder, though, what might happen when something ‘lifeless’ has a little hope sprinkled on top?
A few days ago, I was once again out on the back porch, talking there with friends. Attending to our conversation, we were briefly startled by a nearby flutter and whoosh, immediately aware that the sound and movement had come from the derelict hanging basket. Quietly, carefully, I approached it, stepped up on the bench beneath it, and peered inside.
Awaiting my gaze was a bird’s nest, expertly woven with twigs and grass and made soft with down feathers and the fluff of white cottonwood seeds. Inside, now exposed, were two smooth eggs the size of pecans in the palest pink hue, nestled into the center of the nest. I stepped down and we all moved indoors so the parent could resume her task of warming her treasure.
It seems life has returned to that hanging basket. Not in the way I might have expected if I had allowed myself to believe so, with green tendrils and new leaves. Instead, it will be the perfect home secured to the sturdy dried stems left in the soil there, to safeguard baby birds, hidden away from marauding squirrels, sheltered from the rain and wind… and watched over just outside the window of a woman whose heart trusted in a new beginning before her mind dared to hope for it.