For the last two summers, I’ve had a pair of mallard ducks coming to my back yard. At first they just nibbled up the seed that other birds had scattered beneath the feeder in the tree, but then I got in the habit of putting a little bit of seed at the foot of the tree on purpose. That probably wasn’t the best thing to do, but the mallards were so darn cute. Last summer they came regularly, always the two of them, until I wondered if their nest had suffered predation and perhaps they hadn’t started another clutch of eggs. I wasn’t sure where they nested, either. The closest water, other than the lake (with its treacherous rocks full of crevices a baby duck would be wise to avoid!) are the ditches on the other side of the road.
This summer, the hen didn’t show up for quite a while, though the drake came several times every day, and yesterday, I looked up and saw the proud parents at the foot of the red maple, surrounded by eleven fluffy adorable puffball ducklings. They nibbled away for a while, then the hen led them across the back yard towards the road, up between the houses, down the front lawn, under the lilac bush, across the road (I held my breath for that one!) and into the ditch. They made a second trip to my back yard later in the afternoon, with an equally dangerous return crossing, but the hen seemed to know to wait until a car went by. When a second car came along, she was well into the middle of the road and very visible, so the car slowed to let the family line-up safely pass. I’m not sure she would have been so lucky if it had been one of the big produce trucks barreling along. After the second visit I went to Staples and bought an extra large red felt pen. If the family comes again today, I’m going to put signs out on the road with day-glow tape, warning people to slow down. I feel it’s the least I can do, since they are making the crossing because of the food source. And besides, I kind of feel like they’re family.
The photos were taken hastily, through the window, and I wasn't able to crop the yellow anti-bird-strike tape that fluttered into the view, but it doesn’t really reduce the cute factor by much. (photos enlarge)
The Cloud Messenger (Meghadūta) is a lyric poem by the respected Indian poet, Kālidāsa. The poem centers around a yaksa in exile. Longing for his beloved, waiting for him on a Himalayan mountain, he asks a cloud to take a message to her. The sights he tells the cloud it will see on its way make up most of the poem.
The idea of recording observations appeals to me. I thought The Cloud Messenger was the perfect title for a blog about the journey that we all make as we move through our days.
I'm a baby boomer who grew up dancing in the streets of Detroit during the classic Motown years, lived beside the Rocky Mountains for many years, now retired and living (and writing full time) in S. Ontario. I have one blog for rock 'n' roll oldies, and one for nature, poetry and life along the Lake.