Easter afternoon finds me walking downtown towards my parents’ house to celebrate with dinner and an egg hunt at our usual 4:00 time. I love living close enough to walk over and decide to take the route past the nest. I am surprised to find Mama Duck surrounded by broken eggshells.
The ducklings hatched on Easter Sunday.
It is early in duckling season. There are no others in the stream. These will be first or second brood. Last year I was out of town and missed them completely. Other years I missed the hatching, as well, even though I was in town. One day they were in the nest, then they were gone.
This time I see the new ducklings in the nest.
Mama Duck protectively covers them with her body as they scurry around behind her under the bush. I imagine they are practicing using their legs for the journey to water. When I peer in for a closer look, she puffs up and begins breathing heavily, gathering them underneath her.
I give her some space to collect everyone before peeking in again. I see three little heads looking back at me. That seems like enough of a gift for the moment, so I continue on my way to the dinner, celebrating life and resurrection.
By Monday evening when Steve and I walk the dog, the nest is empty. There is only a scattering of broken egg shells. Steve suggests walking to the stream. After initial hesitation, I agree.
In the dark I see movement of a mama with her babies on the water.
Thursday finds me with a child home from school. She has a cold and is uncomfortable but not too ill to go on a morning dog walk. We head down to the water in search of the ducks.
Upon arrival, she holds the leash, sending me ahead to check it out first. Then you can hold the leash, and I will go look. I see mama with her babies.
Papa Duck joins them, flanking the side, while Mama protectively guides them towards the water.
I keep my distance, watching as they move closer to water. They pause to let the ducklings catch up.
Once all have reached water’s edge, the parents pause, allowing the ducklings to splash a bit before launching. I smile as they swim away and turn to face my youngest child who holds the leash of the dog. She smiles, too.
We walk home together sharing memories of duckling days past.