Am I Duck?

The lakes shimmered in the early evening light, the rivers glistened in the beautiful spirit of Kawaakari (River glistening in the setting rays of the sun, or the moonlight) and I was trying to get the children to come on a marvelous trail for a bike ride. But the children would have none of that. They wanted ice-cream and no physical exertion.

“Aww…come on kids! It’ll be fun – we can do that!” I said in my sing-song child-like voice.  

“Amma! Stop that! You are doing that thing again where you think you are imitating us as kids, but actually you sound like Donald Duck!”

“Well in this case, y’all are like Scrooges, so …eh!” I said. Clever repartees when they do come need to be crystallized in sea-salt, dipped in coats of honey, and preserved in the Museum of Family Quips (The blog) I received an eye-roll for this one, but still.

“Okay…since you kids are not indulging me I am off on my walk. Maybe I’ll talk to the ducks, they might be more receptive…” I mumbled.

Off I went, swinging my hands and marching purposefully towards the trail by the river. There is something in the evening air that makes the world around us come alive. The crows were flying home, bluebirds swooped and swallows tittered, cats prowled, and I saw a large water rat slink into the river bed. The river was more like a stream just then, but this scene was life was welcome.

After some time, when clouds were flitting here and there, wondering how to place themselves just-so for the sunset, I sat myself down on a rock, watching a flock of ducks 🦆 (what are the flocks of ducks called? A chime of wrens, pod of pelicans? It turns out they are called a raft or paddling of ducks). The scene was a calm one. I was taking in the peaceful scene, feeling a sense of hope and a prayer bubble up inside.

 If I really wanted to pray I’ll tell you what I’d do. I’d go out into a great big field all alone or into the deep, deep, woods, and I’d look up into the sky–up–up–up–into that lovely blue sky that looks as if there was no end to its blueness. And then I’d just feel a prayer. 

Anne of Green Gables

I closed my eyes to send a vague prayer of sorts into the Universe. A prayer of hope, joy, unity, elevation, and what-not. I opened my eyes slowly and the whole paddling of ducks rose together in one coordinated flight. The grace, beauty and their obvious comfort with one another made let out a yelp of joy and I clapped at the scene.

I live in a suburban area, and am not always alone. I hadn’t noticed the family ambling along in the distance. They were closer to me now, and they gave me puzzled looks. I looked sheepish, but the joy of the ducks taking flight must’ve lit up my face, and they gave me cautious looks. I looked harmless enough, and was obviously caught up in the rapture of nature. Their children smiled, and joined me in clapping and cheering for the ducks. 

The ducks did not quite see the joy they had sparked off when they flew as one. If we are all happy together, do we exude the same joy to fellow bings? I wish we do.

I headed back and narrated this to the family.

“This! This is exactly why I said I wouldn’t go! People assume that we are like her when she does stuff like this!” Said the teenager to her father.

“Well – I am duck. Duck! Not cuckoo! Get it? Get it?” 

The moans of feeble laughter was worth that, and I quacked happily upstairs.

Duck, Duckling, Dolphin

I recently read a book titled Dolphin Parenting by Dr Kimi Shang. It was an antidote to the Tiger Parenting by Amy Chua book. Dolphins are intelligent, social and playful creatures, and therefore, we must model our behaviors after them is the gist of the book.

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Art work by Daughter

Nature provides us with amazing parenting models every now and then.  Spring time is especially wonderful as this is the time for new life, a transformation of sorts. The butterflies are out and about, snail-lings venture forth, squirrels come out of their hibernation, eggs hatch and, in general all of life is abuzz with beauty and purpose. One day on a walk near our local lake park, I noticed Mrs Duck go to her nest, and Mr Duck gave her a nod as if to say, “Go on dear, I’ll ensure no one disturbs you.” Mr Duck then went on to aggressively protective their little nesting area by quacking loudly and doing sentry duty.

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Just in time for Earth Day, the ducklings have hatched, and they look beautiful. There is something in the innocent, puzzled looks on their little fuzzy bodies that tugs your heart. Of course, it is amazing to see Mr & Mrs Duck take care of them. I can watch them for hours. How they slowly introduce their young to the big, bad world; how they watch their little ones play for hours; and how they only intervene when important,  is a lesson in parenting for us.

They take them gingerly out into the shallow waters first, then as their little bodies grow stronger, take them for longer fishing trips. They teach them how to cross the road – the ducklings are protectively looked after by Papa & Mama Ducks. The parents in front and the rear, the line is a marvel. The noisy bunch then head on towards wherever they are going. I don’t know how disciplined the ducklings are when they grow up, but when babies, it is an adorable sight to see them toeing the line obediently and happily. 

It is that time of year to read Robert McCloskey’s adorable book, Make Way For Ducklings.

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The books starts off with Mr & Mrs Duck looking for a place to live and raise their babies. They fly great distances before they arrive at a little island that looks just right.

There, the ducklings hatch and the conscientious parents are busy in providing for the young, teaching them to survive in a tough world, and learn to be independent. 

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Once they are strong enough to swim longer distances, it is time to move to a bigger island, that involves a few perilous road crossings. Who should come to their rescue but the local policemen?

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A heart-warming tale that I can read any time for a quick dose of sunshine. Illustrated in a simple brown ink, it is a wonderful book for Parent Ducks and Ducklings alike.

I remember being amused and amazed when I first came to the United States on seeing Duck-Xing signs. Coming from India, where traffic flows on, and people cross on and share the road with dogs, cows and goats (nobody particularly stopping or giving precedence to another); it was wonderful to see that the traffic did not only stop for pedestrians crossings, but for ducks as well.