Gwendolyn by Sharon-Drew Morgen

I live intimately with wildlife on a floating home on the Columbia River in north Portland, OR. During the summer I never know who will show up: Two spitting geese (geese are not nice animals) once happily sat on my two couches, refusing to move; birds regularly fly in and it takes hours to get them out; Henry (the mouse) eats my kiwis; sea lions play in front of my door; river rats occasionally come in, as do neighborhood cats. An entire family of otters lived under my house last year. And for the last two years, swallows have made a nest in the eaves of the house and leave their poo and sick babies (thrown out of the nest) for me to clean up. It’s like living in a marine zoo.

Now, in early July, I’m waiting for my friend Gwendolyn to show up. She usually appears mid-June, and I fear something has happened to her. Gwendolyn, a duck, has come every year for 8 years to lay 10 eggs in my tall planter, the one with the now-recessed plants that have gotten tamped down low after years of her sitting on them.

Gwendolyn is comfortable with me. When I come onto the deck near her she raises up to make sure it’s me before sinking back down onto the clutch. If a stranger is with me, she flies out to attack them.

Every night at 8:00 pm Gwendolyn’s husband (I don’t know his name) comes to take her to dinner. They’re gone for about an hour, during which time I check on the eggs. One year a racoon ate them all, and a very disturbed Gwendolyn swam back and forth in the water near the planter for days. Sadly, she never got to meet her babies. Thankfully it only happened once.

The real joy comes when Gwendolyn’s babies have hatched, she’s gotten them into the water (how she does this from 18 inches down into the planter is a mystery), taught them how to find food and navigate the river, and proudly brings the 7 remaining ones to show me after they’ve grown up. I watch them with pride. My friend Gwendolyn’s babies, all grown up. I feel like their grandmother.

I hope nothing has happened to her. I’m waiting to see her again.


Sharon-Drew Morgen is a breakthrough innovator and original thinker, having developed new paradigms in sales (inventor Buying Facilitation®, listening/communication (What? Did you really say what I think I heard?), change management (The How of Change™), coaching, and leadership. She is the author of several books, including her new book HOW? Generating new neural circuits for learning, behavior change and decision making, the NYTimes Business Bestseller Selling with Integrity and Dirty Little Secrets: why buyers can’t buy and sellers can’t sell). Sharon-Drew coaches and consults with companies seeking out of the box remedies for congruent, servant-leader-based change in leadership, healthcare, and sales. Her award-winning blog carries original articles with new thinking, weekly. She can be reached at

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July 8th, 2024

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