The towering maple, stuffed with green leaves a mere month ago, is now disrobed - save for a few brittle leaves still hanging on with all the strength their withering bodies can muster. The shedding of leaves reveals an abandoned nest.
In the summer, we heard sweet squeaks coming from the nest and often witnessed a busy mother robin gathering worms from our grass. We could see the bottom of the nest from our patio, but had no idea what was happening inside. Even from our upstairs window, it was sheltered by the abundant leaves of the maple.
Last night, strong gusts of wind shook the trees, while rain and tree debris pelted our house. I half-expected not to see the nest when I opened the curtains this morning. But, there it sits. Bound firmly to the branch to which the mother robin originally attached it. Nature's strong winds were no match for nature's delicate, yet brilliant, weaving of grass and twigs.
Maybe it will be refurbished in the spring by another mother robin for her brood. Maybe it will remain vacant. Either way, I have no doubt this testament to nature's strength - a seemingly fragile structure - will remain rooted in that very spot for years to come.
At my former company, one of our wonderful employees - on his own time - took Martha Stewart's "30 Things Everyone Should Know" list, printed out each tip in full-color, and placed it in a binder. He made one for each of us in the department.
The other day, while searching for a book, I spotted that binder sitting on the bookshelf. Flipping through it, Tip #21 caught my eye - "How To Make A Bed." "Hmmm," I thought, "I wonder if there is a tip on how to fold a fitted sheet."
There wasn't ... but, there was a note at the bottom of the "How To Make A Bed" page, that referred the reader to MarthaStewart.com for tips on "How To Fold A Fitted Sheet."
Brilliant! I navigated my way to her website to discover what I had been doing wrong for all these years.
The following is a step-by-step breakdown of her tips versus my own process:
Martha: Stand holding the sheet by the two adjacent corners of one of the shorter edges. With the sheet inside out, place one hand in each of these two corners.
Me: Roll your eyes and sigh deeply and loudly … because you dread this task. Then, grab two outer corners of the sheet … whichever you can find first.
Martha: Bring your right hand to your left, and fold the corner in your right hand over the one in your left, enveloping it. Next, reach down and pick up the corner that is hanging in front; bring it up, and fold it over the two corners in your left hand; the corner that's showing will be inside out.
Me: Bring your two corners together and secure them with your right hand while your left hand grabs the folded side. Shake vigorously to attempt to straighten out the remainder of the sheet that is now dragging on the floor picking up whatever you just washed off of it. Mutter something about how much you despise this task.
Martha: Bring the last corner up, and fold it over the others; with its right side showing, it should envelop the other three corners.
Me: Toss the whole thing up into the air gently and catch it smack dab in the middle; remove the fitted corner which landed on your head and is now covering your face; proceed to fold it in half, if possible.
Martha: Lay the folded sheet on a flat surface and straighten it into the shape shown.
Me: Realize there is something small caught in one of the corners. Unfold the entire sheet. Remove a damp, wadded, wrinkled pillow case from the corner. Start folding process from the beginning.
Martha: Fold the two edges in so all the elastic is hidden.
Me: Stuff ... I mean, tuck in the edges, attempting to hide the elastic.
Martha: Fold the sheet into a rectangle.
Me: Think of the song “Rolling on the River” and use that hand motion to ‘roll’ the sheet up into an oddly-shaped version of a rectangle.
Martha: Continue folding until the rectangle is the size you want it to be.
Me: After you’re done ‘rolling’, fold it in half one more time and smooth it vigorously to make it appear less voluminous and wrinkled.
Me: Place under the flat sheet, so only one edge of the fitted sheet shows when viewed from the already-cramped linen closet. This will give the appearance that it has been folded correctly.
Martha’s directions (and accompanying pictures) can be found on MarthaStewart.com from the October 1997 issue of Martha Stewart Living.
Clearly, you don't want any more of my directions on this particular subject!
A 4-year old daughter who takes notice of the pink and purple hues in the sky as the sun sets ... and is excited to point them out to me.
A 7-year old son who - upon noticing that we have just run out of Halloween candy after passing out 160 pieces to 160 adorably-dressed trick-or-treaters and we still have 10 kids left standing at our doorstep - runs over to his own, freshly-collected Halloween stash, grabs 10 pieces of sweets, and proceeds to hand them out to the kids waiting in anticipation on our porch.