Every spring I welcome my family of ducks. I have written about them before but this year I noticed a strange phenomenon very much in keeping with the state of our nation and really of the world.
This story begins as a family of ducks appear almost mysteriously on our lawn. They seem to come out of nowhere but actually they have just emerged from above the stonewall that separates our lawn from the lake.
The female duck comes first but she is never alone. She is the mother followed by six or seven new babies. The ducks, disheveled because they have just come out of the lake, shake their feathers and walk to the birdfeeder where they congregate to wait for a Blue Jay or Blackbird to come and sit on the birdfeeder and scatter seeds onto the ground. Soon the ground is covered with seeds and the mother and her babies also feast. The mother is on constant watch, her head held high, looking for Moses, the pit bull, who, if given the opportunity, would chase the ducks.
After all the babies have eaten, the mother leads them in an orderly procession back to the water’s edge. That is, all except one baby duck who continues to feast and does not follow the siblings. This little one is now separated from the group but that does not seem to bother the baby who is devouring the sunflower seed that still remains on the ground. Although totally separated from his family, the duck finishes the entrée and then attacks the dessert which is also sunflower seeds.
I do not know why this one duckling remains apart from the rest of the family and would not follow the mother.
How much food can a single duck eat? However, even when eating the lone duck often raises his head and observes where the rest of his family is vanishing on the horizon. When the family is prepared to dive into the water the lone duck, afraid to be left alone, leaves the birdfeeder and waddles after its disappearing family. The duck catches up with its brothers, sisters and mom just before they go over the edge into the lake.
Reflecting on this event I realized how human ducks can be! The lone duck did not really want to be alone and when it saw that his family would soon be separated the lone duck hurried to reestablish a relationship.
At this point of the pandemic we might find ourselves isolated but we have also learned the importance of having others close to us. In all of life there is a balance between privacy and community, and we cannot value one without the other.
The virus has indeed highlighted the two aspects of life and we need them both.