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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Melody (08/24/06)

TITLE: Jenny's Joy-Jubilee
By Beth Muehlhausen


Jenny’s Joy-Jubliee

Mother snipped a piece of heavy electrical wire with sharp cutters and then looped it around the handle of the pocked aluminum teakettle – the one with a campfire-blackened bottom. Then she proudly held the ends of the wire so the pot dangled freely, swinging ever-so-gently from side to side.

“There. We can hang it...with just a twist or two of the pliers. This will be good for a Jenny Wren’s nest…a perfect cradle for her babies.”

I was seven years old at the time and had no idea who Jenny was or why we should want her to come live in our teakettle hanging from the maple tree. However, I obediently followed Mother outside our log cabin - watched her wiggle a small wooden chair in the grass to find a flat spot - and held the back of the chair as she stepped onto the seat. “Hand me the kettle, now. We’ll point the spout toward the bedroom window. Then we can watch.”

The days grew longer and warmer, and the kettle hung in the tree, unvisited. I pursued my usual activities – feeding the wild kittens in the woodpile and chasing tadpoles in the creek below the artesian well’s splashy, icy-cold water and slippery, red-orange slate.

One morning while Mother walked to the end of the dead-end road to check the contents of our mailbox, I heard an unusual sound: rapid, shrill warbling.

A frantic, musical torrent spilled from the maple tree as a volcanic song erupted - almost as if the singer lacked sufficient time to spit out all the notes. I darted to the bedroom, pulled back Mother’s blue home-sewn curtains with red and white rick-rack trim, and quietly flipped the black wrought-iron window latch. My heart lurched as the swollen frame stuck with a “crr-ick-ack.” Why did it have to be so noisy? I cautiously pushed the window open and searched the leafy branches.

Had Jenny arrived at last?

A very plain-looking, tiny brown bird with clear, beady eyes sat on the spout of the teakettle, singing at the top of her lungs. Her entire body seemed to tremble with intense effort as she belted out a sweet homecoming song. I cautiously pressed my forehead against the screen to watch: did an angel’s voice flow from that little bird’s throat? The melody repeated over and over with a characteristic lilt at the end – “Tee tee teedle teedle teedle dee deeeee…”

Our Jenny; she’d come to live in the kettle!

The bird’s jaunty little body seemed hardly big enough to produce such an intense refrain. And yet Jenny’s mesmerizing warble rippled through me in the same way a mountain spring might bubble up after being immobilized by winter ice. Her repetitive song of ecstasy tumbled in cascades, digging deep channels in my soul.

Within a few days Jenny’s nest began to take shape inside the dark recesses of the kettle; various stubborn sticks protruded from the spout, refusing to fit. However, Jenny continued to sing while she worked with relentless, optimistic energy. She busily flitted here and there, but also periodically perched on the spout to tell me how things were going. “Tee tee teedle teedle teedle dee deeeee.”

As I went about my daily rituals - nurturing maturing kittens and tadpoles - Jenny’s melody invaded some previously uncharted territory within me. I seemed to hear it replay internally from a deep heart-spot, even at night as Jenny slept – even as I lay on the porch in the darkness, waiting to fall asleep amidst the gruff tunes of bullfrogs.

“Tee tee teedle teedle teedle dee deeeee.”

Eventually Jenny deposited eggs in her nest inside the rocking cradle-kettle, and spent more time inside than out. But then one day I noticed her delivering a variety of wiggly insects through the spout to feed her new brood.

A simple, ordinary Cinderella-type bird, little Jenny worked hard as a new mama – but also shared her cheerful melody with no thought of reward for the sweetness enjoyed by her family and neighbors. She sang with characteristic gusto whenever time allowed.

Jenny taught my young heart an important lesson: God conducts the orchestra of life by instilling a unique song within each of His creations. Jenny’s melody was one of joy.

Today my heart-song is one of praise to the One who sent the little brown messenger my way fifty years ago – praise that swells and overflows from a spot awakened and watered by Jenny’s musical river of song.

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This article has been read 1157 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Kevin Kindrick08/31/06
AMEN. God's creation has so many powerful lessons to teach us - from joy, to power, to peace.
Thanks for sharing.

God bless,

Amy Michelle Wiley 08/31/06
Beautiful, beautiful entry! I love the line about it seeming like the singer didn't have time to get all the notes just right.
Jan Ackerson 09/01/06
Send this one to "Birds and Blooms" magazine immediately! It's perfect for them! Wow!
Bonnie Derksen09/01/06
I totally "ditto" that! This was beautiful and beautifully written. I loved: the descriptive way you let me see everything you did -- the way you described little Jenny's song (I'm a bird-song lover!!) -- the way you made this beautiful picture be so applicable and practical for my heart. What an incredible way to say that we all have a unique song to sing no matter our "wrappings". Oh, and we have a Jenn, whose nickname was and, sort of still is, Jenny Wren! I loved this entry. Thank you.
Laurie Glass 09/03/06
I always enjoy your descriptive writing. You bring me into your story every time.
Karie Spiller09/04/06
WOW!! Excellent writing. Someday i'll be able to write like that. Thanks for sharing this story.
Brenda Craig09/05/06
What can I say? Simply Lovely. You say so much with so little, always amazing me with your descriptive language. Yet, it never seems over the top in a excessive way. Excellent!
Betty Castleberry09/05/06
I love the description in this piece. What a lovely devotional as well. Thank you!
Venice Kichura09/05/06
Just lovely! I enjoyed this!
Allison Egley 09/05/06
Hehe I really like your discription of the song. "Tee tee teedle teedle teedle de deeee!"
Joanne Sher 09/05/06
I love all the details in the descriptions - made it all so real to me! This is just wonderful!
Joanne Malley09/05/06
This is terrific! Light to read, yet deep in the perfect verbage and meaning. Great job as usual. :) Jo
Rebecca Livermore09/06/06
You write very descriptively. I could vividly picture everything!
T. F. Chezum09/06/06
Very well written and descriptive. Good job.
Debbie Sickler09/06/06
I enjoyed this a lot. Your descriptions built interest into a simple act of a bird building a nest. Great story telling and good lesson in the end. :)
Marilyn Schnepp 09/07/06
I'm sure you can make room for one more "Kudos"; a delightful story and an enjoyable read. Loved it!
Suzanne R09/07/06
I especially loved this line: "God conducts the orchestra of life by instilling a unique song within each of His creations. Jenny’s melody was one of joy."

Excellent work!
Val Clark09/08/06
You paint a clear picture of all your characters - including the bird! A delightful read.