Empty nest

Pintail duck

We recently had a unique visitor at our house. In the corner between our garage and our house, just six feet from our front door, we have a small cedar tree in a curved flower bed. Hidden behind the tree was our guest, a Northern Pintail duck. She had made her nest there and settled in quite unperturbed by our attention.

Over the next week or so we watched as she sat on her nest. She ate the bread we tossed down beside her and peered at us from behind the cedar branches. My wife and daughter became quite fond of her and my wife would talk to her as she tended the flowers and shrubbery. I thought that was fine as long as the duck did not start to answer back. They even gave the duck a name—Francine. I have no idea how they came up with it but the duck didn’t seem to mind.

We noticed that each day around four to five in the afternoon the duck would disappear for an hour or so. We assumed she was of looking for food or water or perhaps just socialization with other members of her species. Then one day she didn’t come back. There was no sign of violence, no indication that she had been hit by a car or attacked by a dog or a cat, she just went off one afternoon and didn’t return.

After waiting a couple days to make sure that I wouldn’t disturb things and prevent the duck from coming back, I checked the nest. There were no eggs. No egg shells. Nothing to indicate that there had ever been eggs. The nest was empty. It was a little sad. The duck had been doing her best to have a family but somehow was not successful. Who knows why? We wonder about out little duck neighbour and if we`ll see her again. Someone told us ducks often return to the same nest year after year. So maybe next year she`ll reappear.

We`re on the verge of becoming empty nesters ourselves. Three of our four children have already left home and the last one starts his final year of high school in the fall. By next summer we may suddenly have the house to ourselves. Now for many couples this can be a real crisis. Some may experience problems with loneliness, despair, a loss of purpose, and even a loss of identity. The departure of the children can put a huge strain on a marriage and even threaten the stability of the relationship.

Not in this house.

Sorry kids, but once the old homestead is devoid of offspring, Ma and Pa won’t be moping around. We might not be dancing for joy but we won’t be crying in our teacups either. Not that we won`t miss you. And not that we won`t be thrilled when you come home. For a visit that is. It`s just that we are looking forward to refocusing our attentions back onto our best friends—each other.

We were friends before we ever dated and we still are. We have been careful over the years to maintain enough common interests that we thoroughly enjoy each other’s presence and enough separate interests that we don`t overtax each other`s patience. We`re at a wonderful stage in our marriage that allows us to spend just as much time gazing intently into each other`s eyes as sitting together in the same room without even talking.

It is wonderful. And the reason it is truly wonderful is that we are never really alone. God is with us always. He has blessed our marriage and our family beyond measure. I have come to fully understand Proverbs when it says “He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favour from the Lord” (Proverbs 18:12), as well as the instruction to “rejoice in the wife of your youth” (Proverbs 5:18).

Because of this truth, our nest will never feel empty.

Duck nest

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3 Responses to Empty nest

  1. Empty nest trauma is highly overrated. We’ve lived in an empty nest for years and love it! Actually one of our biggest areas of disagreement (how to raise the kids) is no more, so if anything we get along better than ever.

  2. anonymous says:

    Spoiler: the duck came back.

    ps. also thanks a lot!! thats why you guys are taking trips without us.

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