Dawn Reader

Dawn Reader
from Open Door Coffee Co.; Hudson, OH; Oct. 26, 2016

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Know When to Duck

I have eaten mallard.

When I was a kid, my dad would go hunting now and then, would bring back some rabbits or quail or mallards.  Mom had no interest in cleaning his kill, so Dad performed that function, too, presenting Mom with the cleaned carcasses, which she would then prepare competently if not enthusiastically.  Like many of the rest of us, Mom had no problems eating dead things; she just didn't want to have such intimate knowledge of the process.

I don't remember how mallard tasted--like chicken?  And I never order duck in restaurants (not sure why).  But today I was reminded of all this when, right outside my study window, early this morning, while I sat at my computer updating my Quicken files, I saw a mallard (female) walking/waddling resolutely along, not ten feet away from me, examining the thick ivy that grows at the margins of our yard.  Was she looking for a nesting site?  No sooner had that thought arrived in my mind than the green-headed male came scurrying after, trying to catch up.  Just like a guy.  Distracted in the back yard by something.

Last year, a pair of ducks decided to build a nest right at the foot of our rear porch steps, not two feet from the driveway.  We didn't think that was a good idea for a variety of reasons.  There are feral cats in the neighborhood, and we had no desire to come out some morning to discover bloody duck feathers scattered around the drive.  Also, because we drive in and out all day, we didn't think it would be good for the ducklings to have to learn to dodge a Prius.  We would certainly make way for ducklings, but we didn't think it was a good idea for the little critters to grow up in terror of big black machines.  So ... we discouraged the nesting ... and they soon went elsewhere.

And now ... are they back?  (All mallards look alike to a non-mallard like me.)  The doughty ducks crossed our yard, crossed Church Street, and headed into the back yard of the neighbor who feeds the feral cats.  Uh oh.  I was torn what to do--run out and warn the ducks ... how?  Deny the feral cats an uncanned brunch?  A coward, I sat and waited.

In moments, a flash of movement.  The female, airborne, came flapping around the corner of the neighbor's house, doing, roughly, 1000 mph.  Pause.  Here came the male, dilatory again, but also doing about 1000.  I assume a frustrated feral cat or two were cursing their ill fortune in the neighbor's back yard.

I felt cheered by the events.  I guess I generally root for prey over predator, except, of course, in the poultry aisle at the Acme.

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