The summer of 2020, our family was fortunate to escape to my mother’s four-bedroom home in Northwest Indiana. Chicago was on lockdown during the pandemic, and condo life left little entertainment for small children. At my mother’s home, we were able to feel normal, somewhat, and definitely compared to what was going on in Chicago. The girls shared a room. My husband and I had a room. I had an office to work, and eventually begin writing again.
Near her home, there are several ponds. We had noticed in the spring through early summer that there were two swans who had a nest near the edge of the pond. We often saw the mother on the nest and the father bringing items to her, food perhaps, as they waited for their eggs to hatch. We would drive by the pond slowly just so our little daughters could see the swan.
Shortly after I wrote The Case of the Giggles, I was inspired to write about these swans and put them in our land of Harmony. The male seemed like such a doting husband, which lead me to call him Russell and his wife that he adored to be called Diana. Russell and Diana were the names of an Italian couple that we are still very close to, like family. In fact, our children refer to them as Nonno and Nonna, which means grandfather and grandmother in Italian.
The real Russell loves desserts, and he also meets with a group of guy friends for lunch every Friday afternoon, who he refers to as “the Boys.” I’m sure they have more tequila than chocolate cake during their lunches, but I’m writing a children’s story here. Russell was instructed to watch the nest while Diana had a moment to bathe. The story developed as I created a playful group of guys enticing the soon-to-be-swan dad away from the nest for some chocolate cake. And of course, during this time, an egg goes missing.
In July 2020, our baby swans were born. Ironically, there were three of them. We watched them grown quickly into fully grown swans throughout the fall into winter. When we visited my mother’ home over Christmas, we saw that they had stayed for the winter in a small area of the pond that didn’t freeze. It was so sweet to see these swans that influenced this fun story every time we passed their home to visit my mother.
Last week, my mother shared with me that she was only seeing one swan in the pond. A neighborhood blog shared that a coyote had killed at least two of them. I felt like crying. My mother shared how many people in the neighborhood were also saddened by this news, that they too were watching these beautiful creatures since birth. They really represented beauty in life during such a dark time.
I wish I had a happier ending to share regarding the sweet swan family that inspired The Missing Egg. Not to ruin the ending, but my story does have a happy ending (spoiler alert – they find the egg.) Thank God for our land of Harmony! If only the real world was as peaceful.
The real swan family that lived in the pond near my mother's home in Northwest, Indiana.