Family of nesting Catbirds

By Molly Butler

There’s a catbird building its nest in the little tree beside the dining room window.

When I sit at the table, I can see it flitting in and out of view, often with a twig or strand in its beak. Half the time, it drops the piece before it even reaches the nest, and it has to retrieve it all over again, or it brings in material that doesn’t seem to work and abandons it to go searching again. This year has felt a bit like that. Construction is a slow and frustrating process.

Countertops are going in next week, and the finishing touches are coming together. After 10 months of being displaced by their house fire, my parents will be going home soon. We’re down to weeks instead of months. It’s been a long road. We have spent a lot of this year living in the future.

“I can’t wait to have my office back.” “I can’t wait to have a whole house.” “I can’t wait to see the new cabinets.” We just can’t wait. My family deserves to be excited. Going home will be a beautiful thing, but this year has also been beautiful.

We treat time as an obstacle to be passed as if we could ever get it back.

Before we bought our farm, my husband and I couldn’t wait to own our own place. Before that, we couldn’t wait to rent a whole entire house. Before that, I couldn’t wait to move into a duplex instead of an apartment, after I couldn’t wait to move out of the dorms, after moving out of my parent’s house, which now will never be quite the same. We couldn’t wait to finally get a dog, and when we got her, we couldn’t wait for her to outgrow her wild puppy phase. We spend winter dreaming of spring. We arrive at where we once wanted to be and forget to feel the happiness it was all supposed to bring. We treat time as an obstacle to be passed as if we could ever get it back.

The catbird’s choice of nesting trees is a bit unfortunate for us. Its call is quite unpleasant: shrill, jarring and frequent, enough that it makes us grumble about getting a water cannon and driving it away.

Thich Nhat Hanh said, “When we’re having a toothache, we know that not having a toothache is a wonderful thing. Yet when we don’t have a toothache, we’re still not happy. A non-toothache is very pleasant.” When the catbird doesn’t call, I try to notice and think, “It’s so nice and quiet right now.” It’s hard to think like that: now instead of then. But I’ve managed a few times, and now this catbird has brought me a strange kind of happiness, the way a non-aching tooth can.

There are things you can’t wait for. It’s good to have a direction in mind. But if we live our whole life in the future, we’ll get there without living at all. And while I sit here writing, I can see the catbird in the window, weaving and building. We are both up to the same thing, really, working with the piece in our grasp right now.

Have a wonderful weekend. Stay present.


It’s STEAM-Powered Friday at the Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota! Stop by from 10 a.m. to noon for science, technology, engineering, arts and math programs for all ages. Activities will be outside, weather permitting.

Join Nicollet Bike & Ski for a Casual Friday Slow Roll Bike Ride from 6-8 p.m. All abilities and bikes are welcome on this easy ride around town. There will be a pit stop for socializing and beverages afterward. It’s Class Car & Bike Night at the Blue Moon in Kasota. Stop by from 6-9 p.m. to check out the vehicles and get in on the meat raffle and door prizes!

Anwen Teachout’s “Forever Kindred” exhibition of recent works debuts at the 410 Project this Friday with an opening reception from 7-9 p.m. The show runs through June 25th. Then, head to the Mankato Makerspace for Paint N Sip: Love Grows Here. From 7-9 p.m., enjoy painting, sipping and socializing at this beginner-friendly class. BYOB or enjoy complimentary wine. Must be 21+ to drink, no unsupervised minors.

Matt & Laurel will perform 5-8 p.m. at Javens Family Vineyard and Winery. Johnny Frost and the Heatseekers will be at Indian Island Winery from 6-8:30 p.m., and the Murphy Bros Band will be at the Landing on Madison from 7-10 p.m. Finally, YuWish presents live music from MPLS Drew, Joey Bones, Chase Vibe, DJ Buster Baxter and more, starting at 8 p.m. at the What’s Up Lounge.


Rise and get rolling! Nicollet Bike & Ski heads out on their Saturday Gravel Ride at 7 a.m. Gravel or Cyclocross bikes are recommended on this 25-40 mile ride. The Mankato Farmers’ Market will be open from 8 a.m. to noon with local produce and crafts. Then, it’s time for a Goat Visit at the Children’s Museum! From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., goats from O’Malley Farm LLC will be visiting for a meet and greet!

Sip and Shop! The Indian Island Winery will host the River Valley Makers from noon to 5 p.m.; pair your favorite local makers with your favorite local wines! Or, head to the Makerspace for Wooden Bowls 102: Bowl Blank Preparation. Register here. Or, check out Intro to Metalsmithing: Jewelry 101. Sign up here. Then, the Living Earth Center will host a fun and informative workshop at the Lake Washington Regional Park and Campground! Campfire Cooking will teach you new ideas for camping meals, with recipes and samples to enjoy!

Head to the Circle Inn for Live Music: Saturday Piano-Day with Melissa. Indian Island Winery will host Becky Borneke and In a Bind from 5:30-8:30 p.m. UnWINEd with Matt and Laurel from 6-9 p.m. at Chankaska Creek. Then, Dave Sandersfeld and Tanner Peterson will perform 7-9 p.m. at the Wine Café in Old Town Mankato.

The Mankato Playhouse brings you an Elton John Tribute! Tickets are $11 in advance and $13 at the door. And last but certainly not least, Drag Me With A Spoon presents To the Blue Boat, Thanks for Everything, a fabulous final hurrah beginning at 8 p.m.


Let’s get outside and explore! Aaron Buege leads a Ride for Rolls, taking off from Nicollet Bike & Ski at 8 a.m. for a 25ish mile Gravel/Pavement ride. Bring money for a breakfast pitstop at the St. Peter Food Co-Op. Or, meet at the Group Campground Picnic area of Minneopa Park at 10 a.m. for Archery in the Parks! This program covers the basics of archery, and participants (must be 8 or older) will be able to practice their new skills! Check out Geocaching 101 at Minneopa from 1-2 p.m. Registration is required; email to sign up.

The Wine Café will host an Art Pop-up on the Patio from 3-6 p.m. Andy Tackett will perform from 1-3:30 p.m. at Indian Island Winery, and you can catch Another Time Around from 3-6 p.m. at the Landing on Madison.

Added Value: Mindfulness Tools

Plum Village provides some incredible and free mindfulness practice tools on its website if you are interested.


Weekend High Notes is a regular feature by Molly Butler. Molly covers weekend events, live music, and culture in the Greater Mankato Area. Suggestions are welcome using the MankatoLIFE contact form.