Every year about this time, a pair of Mallard ducks drops into our neighborhood looking for a nesting place. It’s interesting to watch them walk (yes walk) around from yard to yard, talking with each other as they go. Yesterday, they stopped below our bird feeders for lunch. The drake kept watch while the hen pecked at the ground; then she stepped back while he munched on the safflower seeds. They never eat at the same time, one always keeps watch while the other eats.
We look on from the kitchen window, hoping they’ll pick our yard for their home this year. They’ve done so in the past, once under the birch tree in the front yard, nestled in the creeping phlox. and once in the back yard under the maple, sheltered in the pachysandra. A few years ago the nest out front had twelve eggs, eleven of which hatched. We watched from the living room window as the hen led her new-born brood out of the nest to who-knows-where.
Spring is an encouraging season, especially this year. First the crocus emerged under the living room window. Then, the birds came to the feeders, each type in its own time, doves, finches, blue jays, chickadees and more. Daily refillings are now part of my routine. Robins are claiming their favorite nesting sites.The grass is greening up, the maple and lilac are showing signs of budding. All this free entertainment, all these annual signs of life, all proof that the God of life, the Master Creator, is still in charge.
A virus like the sci-fi sounding COVID-19 can make us feel as if everything is out of control. People are dying, the stores are closed, my granddaughter’s bridal shower got cancelled and we’re stuck in the house. But everything is not out of control. The ducks prove it. There is a God who is sovereign over every square inch of the universe, ensuring that life goes on. If anything, this virus is an antidote for arrogance; our idea that we are in charge. It’s a hard way to learn that lesson, but we do need to be reminded over and over that we are flawed and finite creatures.
People are dying, I know. But people are always dying. I’m going to die, and given my age that’s likely to be sooner than later. But I can lift my eyes to heaven and think about the God who holds me and the world in His hands. And I can look out the kitchen window at the carefree critters frolicking in the yard and see evidence that this good God cares for His creatures.
So it’ll take the ducks a few more days to settle on their temporary home. The hen will build the nest, the drake will guard it and her. Together, they’ll tend the nest until the inevitable day when the eggs hatch, and the hen will lead the brood to their new life. I hope they will choose our yard.