Quack, quack, quack, quack! Even their descending quacking can sound like laughter. No wonder they make me laugh so. You know already how I feel about duck butts if you have been following my stories. I laugh. Out loud.
Ducks just seem to know how to have a good time. This time of year, they appear happy as can be. It is warm, the ice has melted on the pond, the males and females have congregated and it is time for play. They chase each other about, splashing and quacking, and sometimes running on the water flapping their wings. I can’t help but feel good watching them. Again, if you accuse me of anthropomorphizing, I am fine with that.
I watched a pair for a long time one day. They were separate from the others. It was an intimate sort of moment, with soft quacking, chasing and splashing. They would dive under together, be gone for a few seconds and come up together. Then the female started rolling. For the sheer joy of it; over and over she went horizontally, her little orange feet kicking each time she rolled onto her back and paused there. Then somersaults – over and under, head over webbed feet. Then the two glided past me, the sun refracting his brilliant iridescent blue/green head feathers, and her soft brown camouflage. I watched their peaceful togetherness, their reflections bright in the water.
Parenting styles differ among ducks. Sometimes the male stays to help, but usually not. About three years ago, I watched two mama mallards over a few weeks. Both started out with seven ducklings. I can never get over how cute those little yellow, brown and black ducklings are. One mother, maybe a first time mom, just couldn’t control the little ones. She would call and call and they paid no attention to her. They stayed fairly close, but spread out, playing together. She seemed at a loss as to how to get them together. She seemed to say, “kids! Um…..kids…uh..come on now, KIDS!!” They would disregard her completely, until she was finally able to physically one by one gather them into a line.
The other mother, only had to softly quack once, and they all came immediately and formed not a line, but a close knit clump. From afar, they looked like another adult duck. I thought that was one smart mama!
Each day, sadly, the mother with the scattered ducklings had one less little duck in her line up. Snapping turtles, raccoons, herons, large bull frogs, coyotes, hawks, owls and weasels could easily capitalize on her lack of skill.
The other mother, incredibly still had seven. I loved the very soft “baap baap baap baaps” she made to them, and the little peeps back. Someday, I really ought to record a duck and duckling conversation and play it back to myself while falling asleep. It is soothing to my heart.
Once one got separated from the family and was frantically and loudly peeping in panic. She did not go to it. She silently stayed with the others. She couldn’t leave them vulnerable. The sound drew a coyote near. She flew near it and feigned injury, quacking in pretend pain. The coyote chased her. She easily got away, then came back through the reeds for the other duckling, and again there were seven.
The creek dried up that summer. The adults all left, having lost their broods. I looked for our one family every day, but finally assumed them all dead. About six weeks later, walking by the dried and cracked soil of the creek, I saw them. Eight full sized ducks that all looked alike, except one was slightly larger – the mom and her seven children waddling through the tall grasses. Against all odds. I was thrilled! Soon after, the rains came and filled the creek, giving them the ability to run along the water to take off. I like happy endings.
I have such mixed feelings about them nesting here now. We have water in the creek now, but will it last? I have learned to let that go. If they make it, wonderful. If not…well, I need to love compassionately and unconditionally, not sentimentally. Otherwise, it hurts too much.
According to Ted Andrews, ducks have been known to symbolize emotional comfort and protection. Because of their connection to water, they are linked to the feminine energies, the astral plane and to the emotional states of humans. They can remind us to care for our own emotional natures. As they eat by dipping their heads into the water (hence duck butts), they can remind us that our emotions can give us sustenance. They can be very amiable and display a wide variety of emotions. All ducks have grace upon the water, reminding us to handle our emotions with grace and ease.
They do not move well on land. This could reflect an inability to feel comfortable with most people in your life. They may reflect a need to find comfort in your own element and with those of like mind and spirit. The mallard is a very prolific duck, and are a nice animal to meditate upon this time of year.
As you study them, you will find ways of applying their habits to your own life.
Tomorrow is Easter, and I think of the surviving duck family. I thought them all dead, but they came alive and rose to the sky. May we all die to the old, and resurrect a new life, full of possibilities and dreams. May we be blessed throughout the year with new energy and a birthing of our true heart’s desire. May our thoughts be clear and loving as we create our world. May the waters of life flow through us as we meditate and pray for Love, Happiness, Peace, Hope, Grace and Ease.
Happy Easter everyone!
If you would like to know the pre-Christian roots of Easter as a celebration of the Spring Equinox, Sindy published a great history on her blog this morning. Read here.