Spring is here in Nova Scotia and the first duck families are swimming by our lake-front. A mother is often followed by a half dozen or so puff-balls. Initially, you can hardly tell they are ducks. Yet, every week they shape more into little ducklings. Sometimes, their daily path swimming by our lake-shore seems to be a "road-way" shared, morning and evening, by muskrats, geese and beaver.
In summer, we often have supper on the lake-side deck. My two grands like to sit on the "high" chairs so they can lean over the second-story railing. Tonight, my granddaughter, who is four, spots a duck swimming near the shore. She starts sporadically calling to it, "Duckie, Duckie, Duckie." Pausing, she eats a little more supper then starts calling again. Momentarily, the duck disappears behind the bushes on the shore line. With delight she repeats the call. A half hour passes. Her persistence is striking.
After a few more bites of food and more calling, the duck lifts off and seems to head our way, but I know it will angle off over the trees. It doesn't. My granddaughter leans forward with anticipation as I grab her shirt-tail. I am suddenly looking at feathers on the inside of its wing-span.
Now eye-level and seconds from the potential collision, I see fear in the duck's eyes. I instantly feel it myself. The bird's wings grab air frantically. I am looking at a "back-peddling" duck! A strange sight. I have never seen a duck try to fly backwards and for seconds, I think it does. My guess is that "Duckie" and I are having an identical experience, one of fear and confusion. After achieving a slight space, the bird makes an unnaturally sharp ninety-degree turn and heads over the trees.
Regaining my wit and looking at my granddaughter, I see her experience is quite different. Her face is lit with delight and laughter. Of course, the duck comes when she calls. Magic happens. She, unlike the adults present, had every confidence this wild creature would fly a hundred feet in a straight diagonal to meet with her on the deck! She knows she can talk duck-language. She believed it would respond as strongly as I believed it would not.
My questions are obvious. How much of this world, how much magic do I miss? Most of it, I suspect. How important it is to feel out beyond my own "dead-end" expectations. And what doesn't happen because I don't? Do I expect the wind to be more than the wind, that the prayer really will be answered in whatever mysterious ways prayers are answered? That old Christian scripture might have a point, "Unless, you become like little children..." Will I ever enter the Queendom of the Duckie?
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