One of the challenges of writing contemporary romance, or any kind of fiction really, is learning to think outside one’s own experience. Joe Character has to have his own priorities, his own plans, his own views of his place in the world. I don’t always agree with my characters’ choices, but if they are going to live in my story, I have to understand them.
In a corner of my vegetable garden, there grows a small thicket of thyme. It’s a brushy spice-scented thing, spilling over its container’s walls. I think it had dreams of taking over the entire garden eventually, so I had to trim it back this spring.
Yesterday a robin landed near the thyme and found a long sprig left over from the trimming. He inspected it carefully from all sides. Then he flew off clutching it in his beak with its long ends trailing behind in the wind.
It could be random, of course. Birds find all sorts of items suitable for nest building. They seem to be much more open minded than human builders. I wouldn’t expect my town’s building code to allow human houses made of cotton balls, dental floss and yarn along with mud, twigs and dead leaves. Especially if that house was built in a tree. But Avian Building Inspectors are more open-minded, and my yard has no shortage of standard nest building materials.
It’s a Rose Grey Lumberyard for birds.
This robin had options. He could have tugged lint from the dryer vent. There are long strands available from the weeds which need trimming near the foundation of the house. He even could have grabbed a beak full of stuff from the compost pile.
But I think the robin chose this thyme sprig for its scent. My own kitchen often smells like spices and herbs and I love it, but it hadn’t occurred to me that a bird might want the same. How very human-scentric of me.
I like to imagine him flying home, proud of his find. He and his mate might have woven it into the curve of their new nest, so that when they snuggled against it at night the scent would rub off on their wings. And maybe later, when there were nestlings, that thyme would become the smell of home.
I’ve never built a nest, but I appreciate the ingenuity required to piece together a home out of flotsam. I can sympathize with the drive to create a safe haven for nestlings. And when I catch a whiff of thyme from my garden, it reminds me that a home is where we build it, whether in our hearts or in a tree.
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I write sweet contemporary romance novels, including The Durrell Brothers Trilogy, Hot Pursuit and Not As Advertised. Waiting For You, the first book of the Durrell Brothers Trilogy, was 2nd place winner in the 2018 New England Reader’s Choice Contest. I love telling stories about unexpected love and creating characters who are doing everything in their power to avoid it.