Sunday, April 10, 2011

My Nemesis!

By Susanne Dietze

See the mourning dove in the picture? She (or he; I can't really tell, so I'll just call her a female) comes daily to visit my back patio.

The dove's visits bring to mind the Bible verse, Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself where she may have her young -- a place near your altar, O Lord Almighty, my King and my God. (Psalm 84: 3).

Maybe, like the sparrow near God's altar, the dove has found sanctuary on my patio. It's a safe place, protected, and free from predators. Just like the Bible verse. One wee problem with those verses in this context, however.

I’m pretty sure that from this mourning dove's point of view, I'm her nemesis.

I've thwarted the desires of her heart, you see. She would love nothing more than to build a nest and lay eggs on my ceiling fan, and I keep telling her "no." The moment I see her and her mate perched on the fan blades, I shoo them away and then turn on the fan to prevent them from returning. The doves don't like how I frustrate their plans, so at their next opportunity (the fan has to go off sometime), they swoop back onto the patio, hop on the fan, and before you know it, there are twigs all over the place.  I shoo again, and the cycle repeats itself.

I know, I’m mean. A few of my friends have allowed mourning doves to nest on their patios, and they all live happily every after. So why won’t I just let them do what they want?

Well, as you may have guessed, the ceiling fan is directly above a table. And yes, in warm weather, that table gets more use than the one in the kitchen. The doves and their mess would be a bit of an issue.

But more than that, there’s something the doves don’t know.

Nesting here will never be possible.

Two doves hanging out, perhaps considering me their nemesis.
Doves are notoriously poor nest-builders, but not even a well-constructed bowl of twigs would stay put on this fan. The motor casing is domed and narrow. The blades tilt downward. Every single twig the doves deposit on either location falls directly to the ground. Still, reminiscent of Einstein's definition of insanity (doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results), the doves persevere by coming back every morning, bringing in stems, and plopping them on the fan blades.

They may view me as the Enemy in the Window, but the truth is, I am not their nemesis. On the contrary, I have their best interests at heart. I shoo them away for their own protection. As long as they try (and fail) to build a nest on my fan blades, they won't be able to live into all they were meant to do and be as doves. Without a successful, safe nest, they'll never lay eggs, never rest without fear, and never raise fluffy little gray babies.

I’m not unmoved by their desire to live on my patio, but I I see the big picture, which, despite their admirable persistence and determination, they are unable to comprehend or accept.

Sometimes after shooing them off, I stand at the window and watch them glare at me from our block wall, and I wonder why they just don't find a nice big tree somewhere. They'd have been well on their way to laying eggs by now. They'd have a nice life.

But then I realize how bird-brained I am myself, unable to grasp the big picture as I rail against the “no’s” I've received in my own life. I do not always accept these negative answers from God. I grow downcast when I feel like nothing is going my way, when plans fail, and when friendships break and leave gaping holes in my life like something fell through the ceiling. I feel (even if I'd never say it aloud, but here I am saying it to you) like God is against me, thwarting my wants and plans and dreams.

Perhaps if I spent more time trusting that God sometimes says "no" for my own protection, I’d spend less time fighting for something that is clearly against His will. I'd perhaps understand that He allows some doors to close some because what I want may not be what's best for me or for His kingdom. And other things -- better things -- might be waiting for me elsewhere.

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

God’s plans are for our good, our protection, our preservation. And sometimes He has to say “no” to get that mission accomplished.

Here’s to the “no’s.” I’m hoping that my pair of doves finally accept my "no" and live the life they were meant to experience, free of futility and frustration.

Question: The title of "Nemesis Of My Backyard" would probably be awarded to the snails and caterpillars attacking my nectarine tree. Do you have a garden nemesis?

Susanne Dietze has written love stories set in the nineteenth century since she was in high school, casting her friends in the starring roles. Today, she writes in the hope that her historical romances will encourage and entertain others to the glory of God. Married to a pastor and the mom of two school-age kids, Susanne loves fancy-schmancy tea parties, travel, and spending time with family and friends. Her work has finaled in the 2010 Genesis Contest, the 2009 Gotcha! Contest, and the Touched By Love Contest, 2008 and 2009. You can visit her on her personal blog, Tea and a Good Book,


  1. Lovely post. Sometimes persistence pays off, and sometimes it's just stupid, I guess, when applied in the wrong direction.

    My biggest wildlife pests are the raccoons who like to take up winter residence in the space between our deck ceiling and roof. We've yet to figure out how to drive them away, but we got a few nice pics of them shimmying up and down the deck post.

    As far as worst garden pests--probably slugs and ALL those cute little bunnies.

  2. Good morning, Barb! Nice to see you this morning.

    True about persistence and endurance. We're called to endure, aren't we? But then there are those times when I argue with Him because I want something that isn't in His will. So why do I keep arguing with Him about it?

    Lack of submission, I suppose.

    I've never had a problem with bunnies or deer, but despite their cute factor, I've heard they can be real menaces.

    The other day I (euphemism alert) "saw to" over 50 snails. No clue where they all came from. Apparently I have an escargot farm and didn't know it.

  3. Thank you for the timely message Susie! Isn't it wonderful how patient God is with us?!

  4. Good morning, Karl. God's unending supply of grace and patience is unfathomable, sometimes.

    Thanks for stopping by on your busy Sunday morning!

  5. This is a lovely post, Susie. I think I'm like those doves in a lot of ways, too. I need the wisdom to accept which "no" is to keep. Me from the wrong path and where I'm supposed to persevere.

    I don't have a garden, so no garden pests. But I really dislike the worms that appear all over my sidewalk and driveway when it rains.

  6. Hi Suzie! I need the wisdom to discern the "no's" from the "endure's" too.

    Oh, worms are either gross or fun, depending on who you ask in my house. We (ok, not just my kids. Me too) have been known to offer a Worm Relocation Service after big rains, where we "help" worms find some nice soil to hang out in, rather than leave them to hang off the garage door. How they get over there, I don't really want to know.

  7. My allergies are my gardening nemisis, therefore I don't garden.

    We have a doves and two babies in a bush outside our window right now.

  8. My allergies are bad, too, Dina.

    Your doves have babies? My pair would too, if they'd just build their nest somewhere else!

  9. Mourning Doves have several broods a year so this might be a long battle, Susie!

    I really enjoyed the post and how you related it to the NO from God who can see the big picture. I'm so thankful for that.

  10. Oh Deb, I had no idea they have several broods a year! I didn't even know they had "broods." What an excellent word.

    Thanks for the kind words.

    So, how's Toy Story 3?

  11. Wonderful post, Susie.

    You live in such a different world than me... imagine... a fan on your patio. Wow. It would get so full of prairie dust here, it'd shut down after a season. :(

    We have lots of mourning doves here. I have a row of 70' spruce trees outside my bedroom window and a pair of mourning doves makes a nest on the same branch every year. I haven't seen them back yet this year, but we still have lots of snow everywhere.

    Nemesis in my garden... that dang-nab-it porcupine that's stripping the bark off my trees.

    Another nemesis... the ticks that will be out soon because I can't go outside anywhere without getting one on me and so I hide in the house or in my office from May to July. :( That doesn't sound bad but when you have 160 acres of fields and pasture to explore, fear of running in them is awful. Also, we don't have central air so the house becomes unbearable by July.

    Thanks for the analogy, Susie.

    Anita Mae.

  12. LOL Anita, without my ceiling fan I wouldn't get through the summer! It gets hot where I live.

    Oh, ticks are nasty. I'm a little afraid of them. One bug I remember from my childhood visits to the southern US is chiggers. Not sure what they're really called. If we wore shorts or didn't tuck our pants into our socks, they'd manage to get to us and they'd burrow under the skin of our legs and oh wow, they'd itch something fierce. My grandma would paint over the bite with nail polish to suffocate the chigger, and in a day or two, I'd feel better. We used to go around with nail polish all over our legs!


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