Some summers there were ducks on my pond and other summers there were geese. But there were always foxes and coyotes. So nesting never lasted long. And now it is down to one duck.
She does what she’s done for years: sits and waits in the same spot even though this no longer seems to make sense or have purpose. The duck flies off occasionally during the day. But she always returns to the same spot.
“I won’t feel sorry for you, duck,” I tell her from the other end of the pond. The next time she flies off I walk over to where she sits to see if there’s a nest. But her nesting days and mine are over. I find only a few scattered feathers.
I could make up stories about the duck, say she is waiting for her long-gone life-mate to return or she’s grieving her lost ducklings. Maybe I could even say this duck is my daughter reincarnated, watching over me.
But what if the duck is simply enjoying the quiet place she’s always known? Maybe she is finding peace and there is nothing to move on from, nothing to grieve or get over. What if the dashing rains, the sun on her back, wild winds of winter, the mate who landed splashing in the pond with her, sweet broods hatching, lost ducklings, the teeth of the fox, wrecked-empty nests, and breathless flight are all just part of who she is at this moment?
Every summer morning on rising I peek out the windows north and south. First I look to see if the shiny black Dodge Challenger is in the driveway; my son is home.
Then I check for the duck.