I watched a robin building a nest, and she can teach us all a thing about our own possessions.
She chose her building materials carefully and discarded many. Then she tucked, tugged, wrapped and occasionally sat down in the new house to see how it felt and perhaps check its structure. I actually saw her wriggle around to adjust things in her house. Now days later, she sits ... and sits ... and sits. Patience is called for now that the house is ready for new babies.
The tree holds the little home softly in its arms with the leaves hiding it from predators and weather. Together they promote life. It reminds me of human communities that form sharing groups to encourage and support us in any life phase we are in.
I live in an old house, and it is sturdy as the trees that were used to build it. But it needs to be cared for and repaired when it shows wear ... just like a good nest that can be used year after year. Just spruce it up, and it is ready to hold more memories and growth.
It is our obligation to take care of our property. If we eventually can’t afford to or don’t have the energy, we need to let someone help us do the right thing. Property is like a living thing to me and has a history unique to it alone. It has breath, history and stories that tell us about ourselves and others who lived within.
Letting property rot down into neglect means being a poor neighbor and friend to a structure that has protected and sheltered us. Many structures have been made into new things.The materials or even the whole building can be used for other purposes. It is a dignified way for a building to go. Let it go with honor. We always have the memories, history and wisdom it had to offer us.
Have a discussion with your family what is to happen with buildings after you are gone. Absent landlords can easily forget the need for upkeep or some new purpose for the homestead. Those of us who buy property should also estimate how much upkeep it will take to maintain buildings over the years before considering taking possession. Just a suggestion.
As we age, we think the responsibilities will get smaller. Ha! Ask for help. Friends, relatives and sometimes perfect strangers will help us along our way. Just ask.
And of course, don’t forget to be kind.
Nedda Simon of rural Princeton can be reached at email@example.com.