Everywhere I go these days, it seems that I am surrounded by teenagers.
A couple of weeks ago, driving down our long, winding driveway, I rounded a curve only to come upon a deer, standing smack in the middle of the road. It was a young deer, not very big yet, all legs. Just standing there, out in the wide open, in broad daylight.
“Oh, deer,” I thought. “Don’t you know there might be hunters? And people who drive more carelessly than I do? There are dangers lurking all around you! Get out of the road!”
I sent up a quick prayer for the young deer’s safety.
A few days later, at the lake in the park, there were two families of cute little fluffy ducklings, hustling to always stay near their mamas. There were another couple of mamas with older ducklings. These ducklings were not so cute. There were getting their glossy feathers, but still had unruly tufts of fluff sticking out in weird spots at odd angles. Their wings were still short and stubby, so they weren’t able to fly away, not just yet.
I watched one group of these ducks as they swam happily along behind their mother — until they happened across a clump of weeds, at which point they abandoned their mother and started eating as much as they could, as quickly as they could.
I’ve seen some teenaged bluebirds around the house in a similar state of disarray. They still had most of their brown and white baby feathers, but they were starting to get their blue feathers, and I could begin to see how beautiful they will become.
Last week, while I was driving up our long, winding driveway, a small bunny hopped out in front of my car. Instead of hopping back into the safety of the bushes, the bunny instead panicked, swerved and tried to outrun my car. I sent up a quick prayer for the young bunny’s safety.
Another day, I looked out the kitchen window and saw the birdbath surrounded by a gang of teenaged titmice. They swooped around the bird bath, fighting for space, hovering over the water without ever quite landing in it. “Good grief,” I thought. “How can you not know how to take a bath?”
The mother of those titmice laid a second clutch of eggs. The day came when those baby birds were ready to leave the nest. The five of them flew off together, in a hurried rush of feathers. One of them took a wrong turn, and became trapped on our screen porch. The mother bird could see the trapped baby bird. She sat on a nearby branch and cheeped to it. But the baby bird could not find its way out.
Thankfully, there was a teenager in the house, one who is brave and compassionate and resourceful. She rescued the baby bird.