First, thank you Christine for letting me come crash your blog. I wanted to get to know all you guys and vise-versa. And, I must apologize in advance—anyone who knows me knows I type a lot. When you get me going, the posts get long. But I hope it’s worth it. If not, then just smile and back away slowly. I promise that Christine’s next post won’t involve me!
So, I thought about family issues, cool writing tips, life in general, among other things. But, today, as I sat looking out my window at a single lonely duck, it changed everything.
Let me tell you a little bit about this particular duck and why he caught my attention.
My neighborhood road meets up with a small park known for dozens of mallard ducks. Last year, a particular pair decided to make my neighbor’s backyard pool into the place to raise their young. They had 15 little ducks. This one, sitting on my lawn as I type, is one of the brothers who were hatched there. He’s easy to tell apart, as he has one white eye—though it doesn’t seem to bother his vision.
Last year he had three brothers who followed him around, walking up and down the road, to the park and back. They made my lawn a particular stop in the day—laying lazily in the long grass—and coming back often at night to sleep. Then, as they matured, this duck (whom I creatively named “Ducky”) found himself a mate. His brothers didn’t seem to care and simply tagged along.
Then it happened. His mate was hit by a car. I was so sad. One by one he lost his brothers. Then winter came and he flew south.
This spring, I was greeted by only two of the fifteen hatchlings. I’m not sure if the others simply wandered off or if they met a terrible end as well, but two brothers returned home. Ducky was one of them. He was larger than his brother this year.
A few weeks into the return season and Ducky brought home a new mate. She was young and naïve—quick to trust me for the simple fact that the brothers did (yes, the smaller brother was still following him). Now summer is coming closer and Ducky made it clear to his brother that it was time for him to move on. Soon, only Ducky and his mate came by—and they came every day at the same times, hoping for a crumbled cracker to be thrown out their way.
Two days ago, something happened. I was in the back yard when I heard a loud fuss. It was the female duck. I ran from the backyard to see that Ducky and his mate had been followed by a gang of four other males. They were attacking her. Now, ducks aren’t the best at fighting back. She was running under our car and other things, trying to get away, wailing her head off. Ducky was simply chasing them… what else could he do? No teeth—no claws. And one of them was much larger than even he was.
Finally, my husband got involved. He charged at the flock and they scattered. Ducky flew off one way and his mate went another.
I haven’t seen her since then.
Now this is where we are left today. Ducky has sat on my lawn ever since then. He has a big ding in his beak from the fight. He sits. Calls. Waits. Watches. He knows that this is a place they always came to, so he waits for her to come home.
This is the second day now that he waits. Loyally. I try to keep him fed, worried that he’ll waste away not leaving my lawn. She’ll never see this devotion that he’s offering her—even if/when she does return.
Now, I know they’re just ducks. And perhaps you think me crazy for reading so much into them. But as I sit and watch him hour after hour, I wonder… what signs of love do those around us show that end up unnoticed?
Sometimes we get so busy and think we are all alone in our busy-ness. But perhaps someone who cares can only show it by simply watching and waiting? Or quietly listening, worrying. Wondering if we really understand that we are special to them. Wondering if we ever hear the quiet calls that are sent in answer to our prayers over the loud pounding of our racing hearts. Wondering if we ever hear them at all while we are so far away from home.
It’s something to think about.
Update: 4/8/2010 11:59am
She’s home! She was starving. He let her eat everything within ten minutes, they were on their way—leaving my lawn happily empty for once in several days. They’ll be back tomorrow.
SEE YOU ALL AT STORYMAKERS!
my neglected writing blog: 700blankpages.blogspot.com
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What a wonderful story. Yeah, they're just ducks, but then why do I have tears in my eyes? Because I'm such a softy and because you have a wonderful way of telling a story. Thanks again for being my guest today. Can't wait to meet you in person.
My guest next week will be Ida Mae Babbitt, a fictional character in Tristi Pinkston's new book, Secret Sisters.