Tuesday, September 15, 2009

September 11, 2009-Anniversary of 9/11-A Covey of Ducks

I read recently about an 18 year old who stabbed a duck in front of Benihana’s because he hates ducks. What makes one do such a thing? Why a duck? Is this just one more kink in the great swing of the 21st Century, where everything is fair game, in the grab, keep and kill of whatever shows up on the screen next time?

I try to think of this duck as a threat, something to hate and I am reminded of a few years ago when I lived in Pompano Beach, Florida. Each day I walked past a canal at the corners of Atlantic Boulevard and South Cypress Creek Road. I often stopped at the stone bridge and gazed east to watch the wildlife, the turtles frozen on rocks, fish zipping in shadows below, the iguanas, not indigenous, some up to four feet long waiting in the grasses to my left and ducks, mostly Muscoveys, a large heavy South American breed that multiplied triple fold over the years in suburban and urban landscapes. Red-beaked, black, green feathered, some white and black, some patched, some all white, they lope and waddle all over South Florida.

This day, a single female, young and sleek swam my way hugging the left shore. Behind her in blips and kicks, thirteen dark, little duckies swimming in her seamless wake. I watched them for a very long time until it seemed the day had wandered on without me.

Over the next few weeks I saw Mother Duck again and again, but with fewer ducklings in tow, until one day I discovered her swimming alone. What could it be? Rats seemed obvious. Rats cling to shorelines and prey on such young. Foxes, possibly? Iguanas? Probably not. What else? And what could Mother Duck be thinking if she could think?

Months later I walked by the stream. Something moved. I waited. A nudge, a shadow, a beak along the shoreline. Then more. Mother Duck swam toward me with a string of duckies edging alongside. I counted. Eleven duckies.

Today I think, what grace in this cynical world of bombs, gadgets, toys, murders, lies and duck stabbings. Mother Duck seemed thankfully oblivious to anything less beautiful than her ducklings swimming and dipping their beaks, flapping their untried wings and their instincts into ever, hopeful tomorrows.