The children's book that had the biggest impact on my life was "The Best Nest" by P.D. Eastman. The story begins with Mr. & Mrs. Bird in their current nest - a nice bird house high atop the trees. Mr.Bird is so grateful for his nest that he sings of it loudly "I love my house, I love my nest, in all the world, my nest is best". Mrs.Bird, however did not share his adoration. She states that it is NOT the best house, it was old, she was tired of it....in fact, they should start looking for something new immediately. They begin searching for new homes and soon realize how difficult this can be. A lovely tree houses an angry raccoon, a shoe is occupied by a foot, and a shiny mailbox receives daily mail. They finally land on a spacious church tower and Mrs.Bird is quite pleased with all of the new space. They work together to collect materials and build their new nest. Mrs.Bird declares "I want to stay here forever". Seeing his partner so happy, Mr.Bird again proclaims "I love our house, I love our nest, in all the world, our nest is best". This joy is short lived, as the church bell is rung, destroying the nest and causing the 2 birds to scatter. Mr.Bird cannot find Mrs.Bird anywhere and concludes she has been eaten, after spotting brown feathers around the fat cat's mouth. With the realization that he will never see Mrs.Bird again, Mr.Bird cries and sets off into a dark rain storm. When he bumps into his old house, he decides to go inside for shelter and finds Mrs.Bird. She sings to him, "I love my house, I love my nest, in all the world, my nest is best". Mrs.Bird reveals that not only has she had a change of mind....but she is also expecting a new baby bird. The story concludes with Mrs.Bird declaring "there's no nest, like an old nest".
I enjoyed this story for several reasons. I really love animals and all living things. My father would always stop to help wounded birds and we would catch bugs and let them outside. This early exposure to personification or anthropomorphism in children's literature was surely a precursor to how much love and respect I feel towards animals and their welfare....and how I have made this a part of my children's upbringing. As I look back on this story as an adult, I also appreciate the messaging around gratitude, giving thanks for what we have, food, shelter, health...and that 'bigger is not always better'. Not having a lot of resources growing up, has helped shape me to espouse all of those ideals as I continue to live simply and with gratitude. I purchased this book "new", many years back, and made it available on our shelf in the wellness room. It is a shinier version of the book I once adored, a book with dog-eared pages, worn binding and blue crayon that I used to express my sadness all over the page that Mr.Bird begins to cries about never seeing his family again.
There's a lot that can be said for an old nest....this Thanksgiving weekend, I'm thankful for the old nest we call home.