Monday, July 11, 2011

Mama Mallard

Meet Mama Mallard with two of her four beautiful ducklings. They live on a pond in the midst of a townhouse development, across from a shopping mall. They were strolling near a backyard patio oblivious to me and the others sitting there. Or rather unconcerned with us; I guess they are used to having people around. I spoke softly to her, complimenting her on her lovely family. She waddled over and looked at me. Then the ducklings came, too, and scrambled around the tile and pulled at the grasses on the edge. They settled in for a little nap on a tuft of grass about five feet away. Mama Mallard was vigilent while the babies slept. And then it was time to move on. Mama started walking and quietly quacked. The babies roused and followed her in single file. Papa Mallard joined them, his green head glistening with iridescence and his body language showed pride.

“Congratulations,” I called out. I got a “Quack” in response. “You’re the Duck Whisperer,” said one of my patio companions. “They were responding to you!”

It wasn’t the first time other beings have responded to soft talk: a llama in Machu Pichu, seagulls on the beach, a rabbit in my backyard. Why shouldn’t they? We talk to our pets and expect them to respond. I think all creatures respond to gentle intention. Babies certainly do, why not ducklings? The language may be foreign but the way something is said, the tone and spirit, we all can understand. Gentleness and respect work wonders. Wouldn’t it be great if we remember that when we speak to each other?

Fun notes about Mallards - for the kid in all of us:

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