One-Roomed Houses Psalm 104:17

Where the birds make their nests.—Psa_104:17.

I have no doubt some of you boys and girls can look back to a month of May when your father and mother moved to a new house.

Probably you gave the matter little thought; but you loved the change. Everything about you was new, and seemed so different from the things in the house you had just left. You went on making discoveries every day. Why, even the boys and girls in the neighborhood were strangers to you; you had to find new friends among them.

Mother was very, very busy then, and for months afterwards. Don’t you remember? She kept working and planning things; all the time she was really wondering how she could get everyone, from father down to the baby, comfortably settled. That, in a house of two or three rooms, is always the mother’s great problem. But in spite of a good deal that is very trying to the temper in those little homes, the mother is generally a very happy person indeed.

1. How would you like to live in a house of one room? When you think of it doesn’t your mind wander away to the fireside of some very poor person, and you say to yourself, “I should not like it at all.” But there have been happy, though poor homes in houses of one room. That was when people in them loved each other; remember that loving each other does not depend on having money.

I wish I could take you to see the wonderful one- roomed houses that are in my mind. May is the very best time in which to take a peep into them; they are perfect then. Like Peter Pan’s cottage some of them are away up in the tree-tops, but others you can see simply by standing on tiptoe, or it may be by kneeling down; they are in all sorts of out-of-the-way places.

I have a new neighbor just over the way,
Who took up her residence early in May.
And all of the furniture ever I saw
Was nothing but rubbish and sticks and straw;
But when I made her a call just now
I found she had furnished her house somehow,
All trim and tidy and nice and neat,
The prettiest cottage in all the street.
Of thistledown silk was her carpet fine,
A thousand times better and softer than mine;
Her curtains, to shut out the heat and light,
Were woven of blossoms pink and white;
And the dainty roof of her tiny home
Was a broad green leaf like an emerald dome.
’Tis the cosiest nook that you ever did see,
Mrs. Yellowbird’s house in the apple-tree.
(A Garland of Verse, p. 180.)

I had the good fortune to have a nest shown to me when it was empty. Its resting-place was the forked branch of a tree. How wonderful that little home was! It was built of—what do you think?—stalks of clematis blossom. The twigs were lightly interwoven, leaving the branched heads outside, and it had been lined, oh, so softly! with feathers and grass. A dear little mother bullfinch had built it, and just a little while before her four or five wee babies had opened their eyes and looked over the wall of it, down upon the wonderful world below.

Younger than we are,
O children, and frailer,
Soon in blue air they’ll be,
Singer and sailor.

We, so much older,
Taller and stronger,
We shall look down on the
Birdies no longer.

They shall go flying
With musical speeches
High overhead in the
Tops of the beeches.

In spite of our wisdom
And sensible talking,
We on our feet must go
Plodding and walking.
(R. L. Stevenson, A Child’s Garden of Verses.)

2. There are different varieties among these one- roomed homes. Mother chaffinch builds one that is deliciously soft and mossy. Sometimes she chooses to place it in a hawthorn hedge, or she may find a very suitable place among laurel or other similar bushes. I should not wonder if you chanced to find one if you look for it; but don’t be too forward, or you will frighten the gentle little mother bird. She is of course very much taken up with the care of her little ones.

Of course you know the mavis, or the song-thrush— to give it its proper name. She builds a wonderful little house. It is well plastered; for the baby mavises are born naked, blind, and helpless, and mother thrush prepares for the rough winds that are sure to come. It is a sight worth seeing, the mother feeding the gaping nestful as soon as they are born, while the father, perched on a neighboring tree, sings a wonderful song to his household. But although a young mavis is about as helpless a living creature as one could find, it soon learns to take care of itself.

A very wonderful bird called the moor-hen builds its nest with twigs and sticks in the middle of thick rushes by the edge of a loch or slow stream. Her brood are cleverer than the young mavises. Before they are an hour out of the shell they can wash and dress themselves, frolic about with their mother, and even pick up their own living. Think of that!

3. I knew a family of boys and girls whose house was surrounded by trees and bushes. Of course little one-roomed houses were something they expected to see every spring (only from the outside, however). The one who first came upon a nest claimed it as his or her special property, and as far as possible protected it from the common dangers—you know them—cats and cruel boys. Many a peep they took, sometimes on tiptoe, and how they loved to see the heads of the dear little baby birds, when they did appear.

How do these wonderful creatures learn to build their little houses? It is God who teaches them. We say they do it by instinct. God put the instinct there. We have to learn everything we do, but unlike them we need never stop learning as long as we live.

Birds give us a great deal of happiness. They are happy themselves, and that in a very simple and beautiful way. Have you ever watched them picking up crumbs? How gracefully and how deftly they do it. Then they fly away up into the trees and sing for the sheer joy of life. If we only remember that the dainty little one-roomed houses of the hedges and the tree-tops are built after the plan of the Great Teacher, and that Jesus cared even for the baby sparrows, I feel sure that no nest would ever be treated with anything but love and respect. The thought of God’s love and care would often be in our minds. We should want to thank Him for the builders of the houses in the tree-tops and hedges.