never ending story

We have some new babies at our house. Before you leap to any conclusions and start making geriatric jokes, I should point out that the new babies are Daphne’s children.

And who, you are no doubt asking yourself, is Daphne? Another dog? God forbid a cat?

No, Daphne is a little brown Carolina wren, and she came to live with us about a month ago. Actually, she lives in the fern by the door to the deck. She was first known as that cute little brown bird who keeps flying out of the fern. Not being experts on the nesting habits of the Carolina wren, it didn’t occur to us she was decorating the nursery.

Rebecca finally looked into the fern and saw not only the fully-equipped nest but also five small brown and white eggs.

With impending motherhood and all, it seemed cold to refer to her as “the little brown bird in the fern.” So I named her Daphne.

Last week the eggs hatched. The babies were hungry, and Daphne was doing her best to keep them fed. It was during these endless trips to her grocery store that we noticed there were two brown birds. I figured it was Daphne’s sister who had flown in from Cordele to help out with the kids because the father clearly was a one-night stand and had skipped out before Daphne started showing.

My faith in men was restored when I discovered that the other brown bird, now named Ralph, was a male Carolina wren. I also found out that Carolina wrens are monogamous. According to Carolina wren experts, the mom builds the nest, lays the eggs, sits on them until they hatch, and then dad comes in to feed them. And what is mom doing while dad is feeding the little buggers?  She is off building another nest and laying more eggs. There is truly no rest for a weary wren.

I share this with you because what is happening in the fern by the back door is so very ordinary. There’s nothing special here. A mother bird has five chicks in a nest she built. Now her husband is feeding them, protecting them from the neighbor’s cat and mom is making ready to increase the wren count.

Is there a lesson here? Sure. Daphne and company are life being lived exactly as it’s been lived for thousands and thousands of years. And there will be Daphnes and Ralphs when we’re all gone. There is order here. Nations will rise and fall, politicians will argue, technology will advance. We’ll complain about things beyond our control, dislike people we should love, But no matter how much everything changes, Daphne and her descendants will maintain continuity. I like that in her. I hope that she knows what a critical role she plays in reminding us what matters.

And what doesn’t.

Maybe I’ll tell her if she ever lets me open the back door.

Photo licensed from Dreamstime.
Mark Johnson

Mark Johnson

Mark Johnson is a professional mentalist and mind reader who presents his unique and unforgettable program to conventions, college and universities, sales meetings, private parties, business and civic clubs and more. He has also appeared at the Punchline Comedy Club in Atlanta and produces, along with Jerry Farber and Joe M. Turner, Atlanta Magic Night at the Red Light Cafe in Midtown. He is a member of the Psychic Entertainers Association, the International Brotherhood of Magicians, the Georgia Magic Club,Buckhead Rotary Club and Friends of Jim The Wonder Dog. You can learn more at He is the author of three books: "Living The Dream," the story of the first ten years of FedEx; "Superman, Hairspray, and the Greatest Goat On Earth," a collection of mostly true stories;, and "Yes Ma'am, You're Right: The Essential Rules For Living With A Woman."  Mark's day job is as a freelance writer and communications and marketing consultant. Mark has traveled around the world twice but has never been to Burlington, Vermont. He does not eat beets or chicken livers, and he has never read "Gone With The Wind." He is the only person he knows who was once a card-carrying member of the International Brotherhood of Ventriloquists. He is a fifth generation Atlantan,  the father of three, and the grandfather of five. All offspring are demonstrably perfect. He lives in Smyrna with his wife Rebecca (aka The Goddess) and two dogs: Ferguson, an arrogant Scottish terrier; and, Lola, a Siberian husky who is still trying to figure out what the hell she's doing in Cobb County.