TWO SUMMERS AGO our back porch was inundated with carpenter bees. Their damage was disheartening, and little could be done aside from trying to kill them one by one. I offered a singular prayer. It was simple really. I asked God for help. One month later a jar of nuthatches, an entire family of extended siblings, arrived.
They were a living picture.
Now nuthatches or brown creepers are not common in Oklahoma, especially in neighborhoods. This little covey, however, twittered away as they began to feast, hopping through the firewood pile first, eating the young black bees. I walked as close as I could to them and told them how glad I was that they had come, that they were sent by God as my helpers. [Yes, I talk to birds, trees, and lots of God’s creation in my yard.] The group then spiraled upside down through the pine trunks, taking care of the pine bark beetles too. Within ten days all the bees were gone and so were the eleven nuthatches.
Last summer a few bees returned, but I saw nary a nuthatch. I missed my friends and began to wonder if they would ever reappear. I swatted at bees with my broom instead.
This year, on the week of my wedding anniversary mind you, I was in the backyard in the heat of the afternoon looking for our cat Kiwi. I heard a single chirrup then another one a few yards away. As I peered into the trees, I saw them—two nuthatches. I moved back into the shade of the porch and watched. The smaller one, the female, was hunting along a tree trunk, but every now and then she chirped to the male who was deep in my magnolia bush. He echoed right back. Every time she moved she chirped to him as if she was sending both her location and an “all is well” signal. He always responded.
My face was wet in minutes. I just knew these two were part of the family that had traveled through my backyard before, and they had returned to build a nest and a family. My home was their home. But even more, they were a living picture, a picture of working together, a reminder on my anniversary week, a picture of God's love for me, and an answer to a simple prayer once again.