Thursday, June 4, 2009
This is a commissioned artwork I made a few years ago and I'm posting it because I had an experience with a duck and her babies yesterday, and I thought it would be appropriate. As I drove around the corner of a busy intersection I stopped behind a long line of cars that waited for a mother duck to cross the road with her six babies. Two nice women tried to direct the mother duck but she looked frantic, trying unsuccessfully to get up onto the sidewalk with her six babies under her. I got out of the car with a sleeping bag thinking, I don't know, could we maybe get them onto the sleeping bag and move them? The mother duck was truly distraught, opening and closing her bill, making no sound as her babies scurried under her and between her feet- squeaking? Loudly. We stood there frozen, not one of us willing to distress her further by attempting to pick her up and separate her from her chicks. I was talking to her, seriously, mother to mother, "I have babies too, I know." What struck me was that she didn't fly, she never made a move away from her babies and they moved in perfect timing with her, all six of them, one unit, under her. Time stood still, not a single car of about twenty attempted to pass, not one horn or angry voice. We all just waited and watched the little group move sideways a foot, back the other way, another, without a particular direction. When time stands still you have no sense of it, so I couldn't tell you how long we stood there. I wonder now, how long could we have stood there, cars waiting in a line stopped in both directions? I suppose we would have all waited as long as was necessary for that mother duck to find her way. Mother Nature, as she does, and in her own perfect timing, seemed to step in because all the sideways moving suddenly stopped. The mother duck seemed to get taller and she turned her head (as if listening?). She focused on some tall grass on the other side of the road and in an about face she turned all six babies, still under her and proceeded to cross three lanes with purpose and intention. Without a sideways glance or hesitation, she found the place in the sidewalk flush with the pavement so her chicks could easily maneuver onto it, across it and finally, into the grass. Watching her before making her move, you would have thought she'd had a momentary loss of memory, frantically pacing and suddenly- like a bolt of lightning- remembering, Oh of course! That tall grass there, THAT'S HOME! The two women and I stared at each other and one said, "Well, ok." And it always is, isn't it? Grace steps in and makes things better than they were. I cried all the way to the grocery store, grateful for the reminder.