Vacant Nest

By Reba Phelps

On most Saturdays in the Spring and Summer you can find me milling around the yard in the ugliest yard clothes that one could imagine. I dress up properly enough during the week so I completely look forward to my no-makeup, hair in a bun, hideous-looking weekends.

This past Saturday was no different. I had an outdoor to-do list a mile long and of course it was 110 degrees, no clouds and 200 percent humidity. Once I borrowed my neighbors ladder I was in business though. The first item on my list was to trim my unruly Crepe Myrtles off of my roof and clean out my gutters.

I can almost hear some of the Master Gardners gasping for air after that statement.

I am well aware this is not the proper time to complete this task but at this point I would totally be fine if they died and went on to Glory. They are 20 years old and taking over my life and the lives of my innocent neighbors.

Lucky for me, the uncontrollable Crepe Myrtles provided just enough shade to enjoy the time spent pruning them to an early death. Between the shade and my blue tooth speaker alternating Otis Redding, Guns N Roses and Chris Tomlin tunes, it was a completely peaceful experience. I was feeling very accomplished as each limb tumbled to the ground but couldn’t help but notice the almost nagging sounds of birds chirping constantly.

These birds were more audible than “Welcome to the Jungle” blaring from my speaker.

There is no one who appreciates nature more than me but they were loud, consistent and almost seemed anxious or upset. It was almost as if I was disturbing a nest. I climbed down the tall ladder with a slight anxiety of my own thinking I may be attacked at any moment.

They were that loud. These birds knew how to get their point across.

As I stood and looked above me there was not a nest in sight. I then turned around behind me and saw the most beautiful red bird and another nondescript angry bird hovering around the fence. The red bird was so majestic I began to wonder who was visiting from heaven. The angry bird was so loud and aggressive I knew to keep my distance but could still notice he was carrying a worm.

After what seemed like an eternity of watching and looking for what was upsetting them I noticed a baby bird on the ground who was quite plump and had feathers. I couldn’t help but think he had been in the nest a little too long. But, who am I to judge? He was big. The baby bird was hopping along the fence line while the two parents (one can assume) watched from above.

Being the exaggerating, over thinker that I am, I played several scenarios in my mind. My favorite was that the child-bird refused to leave the comfort of the nest because he was content having his food brought to him while he played video games. He clearly could not see the value in being self sufficient. The parents possibly pushed him out against his will but still wanted to make sure he had a decent meal while he learned to fly and hunt on his own.

My least favorite scenario was that I had, in fact, disturbed the nest and made the thick baby bird fall out his nest way before he was ready.

Regardless of the true story as to why the bird ended up hopping along the fence line, while his helpless parents watched out for him and had dinner prepared if he failed….it reminded me of when my oldest bird left the nest. Although my bird didn’t fly very far away it was still painful not to have her in my nest.

I have always had issue with the words, “empty nest.” By definition, empty implies that there is a void, nothing left and the contents are gone. It has a negative undertone. However, the word vacant merely implies that the occupant is no longer present but could possibly return on occasion.

There is an old adage that says, “the healthy bird leaves the nest.” A lot of friends my age and older are experiencing the empty nest phase of life or the partial emptying of the nest. This too is just one of the many seasons in life that we have as parents. We want our birds to be healthy and fly as they should but sometimes life is more simple when your nest is full.

It truly does go by in a flash. One day you’re picking them up from daycare, the next you’re shuffling them around during homecoming because they’re too young to drive and then they’re registering for college and moving on with their life. At that point you have very little control over what they do or how they do it.

They are truly only ours for a brief shining moment. Beyond that, you just have to hope and pray that you did your job as a parent making sure you spent the proper amount of time preparing them for ups and downs of adulthood.

Life has a way of teaching our birds the lessons we failed to prepare them for, or they simply refused to learn.

“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”   Proverbs 22:6


7 thoughts on “Vacant Nest

  1. Beautifully written. It does go by too quickly, but I do love it when they visit the old nest…and they do.😀

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