Thursday, April 16, 2009

All Things Must Pass

Hi Folks.

Thanks for stopping by.

It was Mr. Spock, in 'The Undiscovered Country,' who said, "Nature abhors a vacuum." I'm finding lately that he was right. While my own world, in dealing with the grief of losing Pretty Boy, ground to a painful halt, life at the pond carried on. Within days of Pretty Boy's death, white Pekin Puddle Duck somehow figured out that Girlfriend Duck was in need of a companion. How he knew that, living on the other side of the pond as he was, I have no clue. But he's been by her side ever since.

While Puddle Duck doesn't possess any of the attitude that made Pretty Boy so charming, he's willing to do whatever is necessary to look after his new friend: several times, I've seen him shooing away wild mallard drakes so that Girlfriend Duck could eat her corn in peace. Every time I approach the pond now, I find the two Pekins in close proximity to each other. It's an arrangement that suits them both.

Another life that carries on is that of Pretty Boy's wing man, Ducky. While it's unlikely that Ducky knows that his friend has died, a curious thing has happened since he went to live with the Mitchell's: he's come out of his shell and into his own. It's an unexpected turn of events.

Ducky had been dumped at the pond as an adult, and he never really settled comfortably into the new living arrangement. As a result, he was content to walk in Pretty Boy's shadow, and he no doubt felt safe with the alpha duck looking out for him. When he first arrived at the Mitchell's, Ducky looked to Chicken for the same sort of security, but as time passed, some inexplicable change took root. Now, I'm told, Ducky chases squirrels off the property, as well as birds, rabbits, chipmunks and any other interlopers he feels brave enough to face down. He's clearly more confident, now, and more sure of his surroundings.

One of the main reasons I've kept the ducks at McKinnon's Pond - instead of pushing boyfriend John to hurry up and dig that duck pond - is because the place is so damned big. The pond is easily the size of a football field, with grass and shade trees along the banks, and it's located on a quiet street in a quiet subdivision. To my mind, it's the perfect place for a duck to live - if you can overlook, that is, the fact that any number of predators also call the area home. To ducks like Pretty Boy, who're born there, it must seem like paradise. To ducks like Ducky, who were dumped there having first known a more secure life somewhere else, it must've been a nightmare.

So while Pat Mitchell continues to express surprise at the changes in Ducky - the new-found assertiveness, the obvious pleasure he takes in patrolling his territory - they don't surprise me much at all. It makes sense that in that more contained environment, Ducky would thrive and blossom. And it's a joy to see. The last time I stopped in for a visit, Ducky ran all the way across the yard to greet me, quacking happily as he inspected me for treats. His new passion, I was told ahead of time, is saltine crackers. I came prepared.

As I drove home from that visit, it occurred to me that I hadn't been greeted so heartily by a duck since Pretty Boy died. Ducky will never take Pretty Boy's place, of course, but how satisfying it was to stand in the Mitchell's driveway, calling Ducky's name, just like I used to call Pretty Boy, and watching Ducky race toward me as fast as his webbed feet would carry him. Nature does, indeed, abhor a vacuum. There will never be another Pretty Boy, but there will be other ducks, and other critter friendships, that will be satisfying in their own right. I just have to be open to them as they come along.

That's all for now, folks. Until next time, please be kind to all the critters!

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