Sunday, October 28, 2018

The Return of the Duck

I’ve been busy. I work full time, I’m a mom, wife, daughter and sister. I practice my archery skills at our local range, I go on power walks rain or shine, I’m an amateur photographer and I knit. I live in a place where I am fortunate to have the freedom and the means to do what I want, when I want. I live in a beautiful part of the world where the wonders of nature never cease to amaze me. I truly don’t take what Mother Nature has given me for granted and I know our weather is what draws many to live here. On the West Coast of British Columbia, specifically Vancouver Island, we live in what is considered a tropical rainforest.

Yes, rainforest. The word alone sounds so....remote and tropical. So ‘Amazon’ – the place, not the online never-ending shopping experience. True we don’t have monkeys swinging from vines, and we don’t have snakes, lizards and creatures more colourful and fascinating than anything a west coast girl like me could ever imagine. Sure we have flowers, but nothing big and grand like what you would find deep in the Amazonian jungle. Our flowers have their own beauty and uniqueness – size doesn’t matter. And sure we have birds not found anywhere else – every country has their own unique animals, after all. Parrots and other birds with colours beyond imagine are kept in cages here – in the jungles afar they fly free by the dozens.

And now that summer is over and fall is upon us, the rains have started. But up until this point, we haven’t had a lot of rain. In fact, even a week ago I was outside in a t-shirt at the archery range, and I was wishing I had on shorts. Some of the local ponds had yet to fill, and we knew that it wouldn’t be long until they DID fill with water to overflowing, bringing joy and home to many local creatures.


Mallard ducks.

The females are brown and considered ‘boring’ while the males are in dark blues and greens - again, seemingly boring – or so as compared to those vibrantly coloured parrots and flowers in the jungles far away.

But they are OUR tropical birds we so greatly love. The rains that come for what feels like 40 days and 40 nights bring the ducks in rafts. Yes, a group of ducks paddling around in a pond is called a raft, where when in flight the group is called a flock.

But no rafts are needed for these guys. Their little webbed feet keep them going. They mate for life, and support each other. They return every year to the same place to nest and breed, and the spring heralds fuzzy little chicks that we humans happily protect. A busy highway will come to a standstill to let a little family cross, and firemen and police will go to great lengths to save a little waddler trapped down a drain. People flock to the ponds armed with duck food (bread is bad, dontcha know!) and cameras click faster than the ducks can eat.

And I’m one of them.

I will never tire of the little beings of our own rainforest. They quack, waddle, flap and paddle all day – sometimes I feel as if only for my entertainment and enjoyment. Like I said, I've been busy - I always AM busy - but these guys force me to slow down and take a moment to just be. I never tire of them, and I have countless photos of them. Some might think of the ducks ‘Heck – you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all, right?’ Na – not for me. I love the little guys – and gals.
So as the heavy autumn rains have finally come back to us – non-stop for the last 24 hours as I write this – I know it means one thing. Ducks. The pond at the nature conservatory near my house has been rather dry these last months. I saw a poor excuse of a muddy puddle that had formed there the other day with two ducks mucking about. Were they desperate to make it more than it really was or happy with what they had? I think the later. Because they didn’t care – they still mucked about, happy with what they had.

As the forecast calls for more and more rain over the next while – and the forecasters sure weren’t wrong this time – all I can think about is ‘FINALLY, the ducks will be back for a good while!’ I am currently charging my camera batteries so my camera is ready for the next break in the clouds. I have spent countless hours at the pond taking photo after photo of our rainforest birds. To anyone else it’s ‘just another duck photo.’ To me, the photos are a treasure – a keepsake – a reminder of what to remember. The ducks are a never-ending source of joy and entertainment. They are MY parrots of MY rainforest.

They remind me to find and keep the joy in the little things, no matter how small - how seemingly insignificant. Sure the ducks aren’t grand parrots of colour and variety aplenty. And sure around here the ducks are a dime a dozen. But I can lie in bed listening to the rain, and hear the ducks at the pond down the street singing their swan song (that likely doesn’t make sense, but I don’t care) and know how lucky I am to have these little creatures within arm’s reach to entertain me. I don’t have to travel to jungles afar to enjoy these unique and special little creatures who waddle down the path making me laugh.

And I remember that a silly little mud puddle to one person means the world to another. We are all just ducks in this great big pond. We have to keep swimming, we have to keep waddling, and eventually we’ll get there simply by being ourselves and enjoying what we have.