Empty Nest? Nah... ;-) / by Roni Delmonico

I love to travel to new and interesting places but I really really love coming home.  I live on a small town river in Central New York that is teeming with all kind of wildlife and it is such a treat to interact from afar... and once in awhile, even up close.  I keep a lot of flowers around our property and one morning, we found my gorgeous red verbena in shreds, all torn up and dead on the ground beside its flower pot.  I couldn't imagine what might have done it.  Until we went to clean it all up and found four little baby bunnies all snuggled up together in the den their mother had made for them.  I have to say, I think she was rather smart.  A lot of times they make their dens on the ground and the babies' chance of survival against lawn equipment and other dangers is very slim.  

They are about eleven days old now and I have been watching over them since the day after they were born.  We lost one a few days ago and I was just heartbroken but yesterday, two of them opened their eyes for the first time and blinked up at me.  I just stood there grinning from ear to ear.  That was so special.  First time ever in my whole life, that I have had that pleasure.  I got to look into those little eyes, even before their mother did.

It's been raining a lot this week, so I covered them with an umbrella.  They're still cozy as can be.  It's a common misconception that the mother won't return to nurse them if you touch them and I admit to being unable to resist stroking these tiny little miracle balls of fur.  Mama comes back for about 15 minutes at dawn and 15 minutes at dusk to nurse, and I sit at the top of the stairs in my hallway, where I can watch in awe, without disturbing them.  It's lovely really... this beautiful world I live in.  So full of wonder. 

So far this summer, in the early hours just after dawn, I have kept company with a doe and her baby deer, a bearcub-sized beaver, a family of four minks, eighteen mice, (For awhile I felt a bit like Cinderella waiting for her ballgown and affectionately named the first one "Gus-Gus" ;-)), two beautiful pairs of yellow finches and one pair of cardinals, at least four nesting house finches and five different FULL nests and all their baby birds, hummingbirds,  mourning doves, chipmunks, squirrels, a skunk, blue herons in the yard and on the riverbank, kingfishers, falcons, osprey, eagles, ducks, geese, mergansers, swans, snow geese, cormorants, and one crazy little Havanese puppy named Cheyenne.:)  We also have a pond filled with about a hundred or more of the most beautifully colored Koi fish and a freshwater tank inside.  There.  I don't think I left anyone out.;-)

As we begin the new school year and my last child heads off to college... it occurs to me that my nest is not really so very empty after all. x

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