What a month. Needy babies everywhere! You might think I'm referring to the sons graduating (#2 and #4) or marrying (#1), but I'm talking about baby creatures in my yard.
In the shrubbery alongside our driveway, a mother duck built a nest and laid ten eggs. My neighbor and I fretted about the long distance to a water source but who are we to judge another mother's choices. My neighbor is up early and I'm up late, so we know everyone's business, but somehow we missed the hatching of the ducklings because the nest is now empty. Well, not quite. There are three unhatched eggs just sitting there. Waiting. (I tried to come up with a wisecrack about that but it's just not funny, is it.)
On the other side of the house by the back door is a fortress of a bird's nest built into the eaves. One side is made completely of mud. I counted five eggs as far as I could tell. One day, the robin who built it was beating her wings against the window, communicating with me mother-to-mother. Another robin -- probably some floozy who admired the muddy architecture but couldn't be bothered with the onerous task of gathering dirty twigs -- was fighting for the nest. The nerve! So I parked my chair on the patio for a while. It was all for naught. The next morning, I found nest and broken eggs on the bricks. I wanted to search out that poor robin and have a good cry together over a nice bowl of mush.
In the bush by the front door is yet another nest belonging to a little songbird I couldn't identify. One day, that nest too was emptied of its eggs. But unlike the sad incident on the back patio of brick, these eggs landed on wood chips and two eggs survived intact. I gently replaced them in the nest and was rewarded a few days later when I saw the mother bird feeding one baby. Heartwarming until I noticed how the baby cried incessantly. It was all mouth and inside its outsized beak was a black abyss of hunger. God help that poor mother.
Last week, watering the flower bed by the basketball hoop, I almost stepped on a baby rabbit. It was motionless but seemed alright, as its eyes were bright and I didn't notice any blood or fur bits nearby that would indicate it had been chewed on. So again, I kept watch long enough to chase away Lucy, the friendly dog next door. Eventually I got bored and went back to my watering.
I questioned my sanity when not two minutes later, I saw a fawn curled up in the corner of our patio, quietly licking its fur and gazing at me and my watering can with limpid saucer eyes.
That's it. I don't know what kind of pheromone I'm emitting but enough! I've raised my brood and I'm really tired. Just this week I noticed a new scaly circle of oldness on one of my eyelids. So, unless you're a slice of cucumber ready to soothe my scales, just leave me alone.
And my babes aren't quite fully raised. Although I did attend two graduations last week. The ceremonies were two days and 2000 miles apart, which is always the way, isn't it?
We dutifully packed up the entire family and flew to the west coast to toast and cheer one son graduating from college only to get on a plane and fly the next day back to the midwest to cheer the other son graduating from high school. It felt like progress towards the end of the long road of parenthood. And yet, in our few days together, my four sons never tired of eating, just like the mewing babes in the nests and nooks of our yard. The abyss of hunger lurking under my kitchen table is real. The most common topic of conversation is what we will be serving at the next meal.
Here are a couple of fun pics of my grads. Please don't tell me they look thin. I'm already in the kitchen cooking up mush.
P.S. The fawn didn't budge from the patio the whole long day. Not once did it stretch its legs or change its position. By 4 pm, I was having palpitations, worrying about dehydration and googling "how to nurse a baby deer." By 10 pm, it was gone. Again, neither my neighbor nor I witnessed a thing.
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