Early this month at the final meeting of my book group we had a Yankee book swap, and I ended up taking home a book about birding in Central Park in New York City. I did not expect it to be a page turner, but it was! I lent it to my neighbor when I was through and she finished it in one day. It is a surprisingly engrossing tale of the wildlife in the 800 acre park, particularly a 4-5 year saga about a pair of red-tail hawks who nest and raise their young amongst the skyscrapers at the park's edge.
It is called "Red-Tails in Love," by Marie Winn.
The book came to mind this morning when I awoke in a house that was empty except for J and me. After work last night, T went to the premier midnight showing of the newest Twilight movie with a group of girls, planning to spend the night afterwards.
I started thinking about the empty nest analogy, which is quite apropos. To fine tune the metaphor a bit, I came up with this thought, inspired by the story of the Central Park hawks. Our nest isn't entirely empty yet, because we are still in the fledgling stage.
There is a period of time where the baby birds are trying out their wings. They fly, or hop a little ways along a branch (or to a lower ledge on a building, in the case of the NYC hawks). Then they rest there a while. They return to the nest for feeding after the exhausting exertions of learning to fly. Over time their absences increase in length, bit by bit, until they return no more.
One could argue that the fledgling stage for humans lasts until after college, when offspring move out officially. Or when they find a job and a home of their own. Of course, some may stay home and work from there for a while, which makes for a fuzzy fledgling period. The nest analogy kind of falls apart in that scenario (sometimes to the dismay of the mother and father "birds").
I think, really, that the departure for full time college or a full time job is probably an apt time to label the offspring fully fledged. The nest is officially empty.
So we're in T's fledgling stage. It's a practice round for the final departure. She only comes home to feed once in a while, when she's really tired out and needs a boost before heading back out there on her own.
(Ironically, after all this profound thought, I noticed a note taped to our bedroom door - from T. She came home after all, at 3am, and is sleeping in her bed. Still fledging.)