And so on.

There have been other happenings here on Bickley’s Pond, a fact that may surprise you as I have been so focused on those baby bluebirds and on all it has taken their Mama and Papa and me to keep them safe and well fed and properly photographed. For instance, my sweet neighbor and friend, Stephanie, discovered a nest of squakers right underneath their deck stairs, safe and dry and hungry. How thrilled I was when she sent me this photo.

next door babies
this nest is a work of art, right?

(I made my way over there the first moment I could and lo and behold the nest was empty—those babies had already flown the coop!)

I have kept my eyes on the ducks, as well. Do you remember the Rock ‘n Roll ducks with their crazy pouffy heads? You couldn’t have fit a 12″ ruler between those two, devoted as they were to each other. Well, several days passed and I saw no sign of the couple. And then I was sitting out on the down-by-the-water deck when I noticed a gaggle of assorted ducks swimming out from behind Rodney’s dock. Following just behind was one of the white crested ducks. It was obvious he was hesitant to get too far from the shore.

lonewhite

I’ll bet there are eggs I said out loud, my heart a little thrilled. I’ll bet she’s sitting on a nest.

The very next day I spotted the Canada Goose couple, the ones who spend nesting season here every year. Over the years we’ve raised several broods together, those geese and I, including clutches of seven, five and three.

our little family, circa 2010
our little family, circa 2010

They were way across the water so I pulled out the big zoom lens and hoped for the best. Sure enough I could make out one baby. I felt a little sad for the couple, knowing how precarious it is to try keep a family safe on this lake what with eagles and hawks and snakes and gigantic starving turtles there just below the surface of the water. How many have they already lost I wondered.

onebaby

 

And the next time I saw them, there was no baby at all–just a big, empty space between them.

wide-open

That’s when I realized I hadn’t seen either of the white crested ducks in over a week. Perhaps their nest was not successful. Perhaps they have packed up and moved on.

There has been good news. First, the baby bluebirds continue to thrive. Their devoted parents must be exhausted trying to get enough food to keep them full and happy.

hunt, hunt, hunt
hunt, hunt, hunt
Anybody hungry???
Anybody hungry???
YES!!!

 

And then there is this, the most wonderful of all.

 

monkeys
I cannot believe she is 21!

My own sweet baby, home for college. We spent three days together on a little mini work/vacation in Key West.

duo

It. Was. Glorious.

 

Day 20: Togetherness

I first saw those ducks from a distance and did I ever rejoice, hoping against hope it signaled the triumphant return of the Bickley’s Pond white duck from two winters ago. You may remember my endless fretting over that much maligned creature. Despite his nonstop efforts, he was never able to assimilate into the clan of web-footed cousins around our cove. The sweet mallards gave it their best, making room when he insisted on joining their cozy twosome. (It was short-lived.) The Canada Geese not only shunned him—they mocked him in a vociferous and hateful way. Eventually the entire duck B.P. population grew so weary of the misfit they abandoned him completely, flying on to other waters and leaving him here, all alone on Bickley’s Pond.

For weeks it stayed that way, that forlorn creature swimming solo, not a friend (or foe) in sight. And then one sad day when I looked out to the pond I noticed there was no duck at all. My heart broke a little more when later I heard a neighbor say (and I swear this is the truth) that the last time they saw that duck he had made his way up the hill from the water and was heading toward the gate, waddling right down the middle of our neighborhood’s main road.

~~~~~~~

And so you can see why my heart leapt at this Spring’s sighting of not just one white duck, but two. Two white ducks, mirror images, so attached to each other that whether they are on shore or pond, they are never separated by more than a few inches.

duck-4

I’ve never, ever seen such love and commitment is what I thought as I watched the two from the big window over my kitchen sink. He is so protective! She is so devoted!

ducks-2

What a beautiful way to make your way in this world, knowing there is someone there, always there, who cherishes you, yes—but who also has your back.

I wanted a closer look, and thanks to my camera’s big zoom lens, I was eventually able to get a better view. It was not my misfit white duck, after all, but another kind of creature altogether—and one with such an odd appearance I laughed in spite of myself.

ducks-3

What. Is. That? I wondered, a bit in awe. I ran straight for Google.

The Crested Duck: This fancily-quoiffed duck is descended from the domestic mallard and sports a pouf of feathers growing out of the back of its head. This crest is actually caused by a genetic mutation that duck breeders have selected for. This mutation causes a duck to be born with a gap in its skull, which is filled with a growth of fatty tissue.  It’s from this growth that the pouf of feathers sprouts. (source: Animal Planet: Animal Oddities)

 

By now I have spent countless hours watching this beautiful couple make their home on Bickley’s Pond. In all that time, whether climbing the ledge beneath the trees that cover their nest, or waddling across the greening grass, or criss-crossing from one corner of the lake to the other, I have never seen them more than ten inches apart. How I adore them, this unusual Crested Duck couple. How grateful I am they are here, a constant reminder of the significance of family, the importance of devotion, and the overwhelming power of love.

togetherness
how good it is to be together

30 Days of Grace III