Sunday, April 18, 2010

Harry and Mildred

As we pulled in the driveway from church this morning, we were excited to see two old friends of ours waiting for us in the front yard. Harry and Mildred decided to pay us a visit. Like many people in our mountain community, they're an old married couple who winter in warmer climates, and only grace us with their presence when things thaw out up here. We never know when they're gonna drop by, but we anticipate their visits all spring.

Harry and Mildred came to reside at their "summer home" across the road about four years ago. We have a large lake that we can see from our home, and a good sized pond that's filled from the over-flow of the lake. But Harry and Mildred don't like to flash their money around. They were looking for a much more quaint address....something more "cabin- like" with privacy and views of the countryside. Our water well has a valve that releases water several times a day. This water flows through a culvert under the road and fills a tiny little watering hole. When the watering hole overflows, it acts as a natural irrigation system for the pasture. This watering hole looked like the perfect place for Harry and Mildred to invest their nest eggs, so they bought it. They fly in every Spring and make themselves cozy.

Wanting to meet the new neighbors, Harry and Mildred crossed the street into our yard. There they found that we have a continuous source of gourmet delights beneath our bird feeders. Wheat, Milo, and Millet mixed with the occasional sunflower seed are all just there for the taking. We soon became fast friends, and Harry and Mildred come by for a snack almost every day. Our kids are VERY attached to them. In fact, one day two years ago, we were heading home from shopping, and right in front of our driveway......I almost can't say it.........Harry was lying D.E.A.D. with feathers all over the road. The shock and horror of it all was almost too much to bear. My children screamed, and I wanted to shield their little hearts from this tragedy. I wanted to back the truck up and pretend we never saw the "Hit and Run" incident. I wanted to turn back time and tell our feathered friends about looking both ways before crossing the street. There was so much sadness. For days, Mildred swam in the watering hole all alone, and every time I passed her, I wanted to cry, thinking about her devastating loss, and life without her Beloved. Then on the sixth day, I drove by, and low and behold... another duck was swimming beside her in the watering hole. I backed the truck up. I know that time heals all wounds, but SIX DAYS? I don't think she even had time to come to terms with her loss. I mean, I was still numb, and it wasn't even my spouse. The girl needed more time to heal! I couldn't believe the nerve of that new male duck, making a move on this vulnerable woman in her fragile state. He had no right! Harry's feathers were still on the road, for goodness sake! What about the proper mourning period? Evidently ducks have an amazing ability to cope with traumatic life events much better than humans, because they were an "item" immediately. It took me a good two months before I could even acknowledge this new man in Mildred's life. But over the years, he's began to prove to me that he's a pretty good guy.

The new Harry treats Mildred as if she's the Queen of England. He leads the way to the feeder, and then, like a perfect gentlemen, he stands guard, looking for signs of danger while she gets her fill of seed. Then, and only then, does he scarf down a few bites. He never leaves her side. And when she lays her eggs near the watering hole, Harry calmly sits on her nest to give her a break so she can get a bite to eat, and go for a swim. A good man's hard to find, but Mildred's been blessed to have loved twice, and been loved in return. I'm glad that after all these years, Harry and Mildred still come to visit us each spring. Their visits are always delightful, and we treasure our fine feathered friends.

1 comment:

  1. Yeah... I don't think chickens mourn long enough, either. It took me 2 weeks to mourn the loss of our baby chicks!

    Very cute story:)