Wrenzai in the Woods

The light is dying, the woods growing shadows, a few last birds feeding at the feeder or on the ground below, a few last scrappers willing to risk the terrifying beak of the low-flying, twilight merlin.

The house looms tall, with its chalet front and barn back, up on its four-foot foundation, dwarfing the willows and myrtles while paying homage to the alder and spruce. Many stars have swept over the house’s head, many seasons of birds fluttered by.

Night House

Night House

Wrenzai got it in his head he wanted to build a house. It was the next big adventure. His father joined him to frame it out and dry it in during the summer of 1997. Wrenzai feels grateful. By September 1999, Wrenzai had finished the house and called it done.

Wrenzai and his wife, with hand tools and determination, gradually snipped and clipped the woods back, making the distance greater for the mosquitoes and the moles.

A house is a demanding spouse, requiring new clothes and accessories. Or new jeans—so be it! Rough-hewn and weather-beaten, scrubbed by wind, rain, light, and brine and pierced by bugs, birds, bats, and raccoons, the upkeep is constant, but meaningful.

Raccoon: Inside or Outside?

Raccoon: Inside or Outside?

Pill Bug’s MissionWrenzai, for the first time, put down his own deep roots. It was in the cutting of the woods, the pouring of the concrete, the piecing together, board by board and nail by nail, of a sanctum sanctorum.

Wrenzai sits at the west end of the dining table with the kitchen behind him and the bird feeder out the window to the left, where over the years he’s observed dozens of species of birds feeding, seen others drawn happily to the commotion (though interested only in bugs and grubs), or turned to follow with his eyes those who merely sail by above.

Storms buffet walls and windows, thrash the willows and myrtles as they flail about like confused green waves, the woods a green sea of chaos.

Head of WindWhen the sun breaks through and lights and warms every recess of the woods and the flowers gleam with the storm’s last rain, there is no doubt this is Paradise, the kind of paradise that can only be experienced stepping out of a dark and raging storm into a halcyon bubble of bliss.

Red-shafted Flicker and Sunny Day

Red-shafted Flicker and Sunny Day

Wrenzai sits at the head of his table, overseeing the birds, clicking away at his keys, writing through sunshine and storm. Millions of words fly through his fingers into reams of digital pages, each word a tiny bird, carrying a tiny message. Some words fly off in tremendous flocks, carrying with them, he likes to think, messages of greater import.

Art of Breathing


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