Duck for a Day

I passed two ducks strolling down the highway on Easter morning—large mallards waddling and chatting with each other, staying on their side of the white-lined shoulder, yet precariously close to the cars whizzing by. They appeared oblivious to the traffic. I wondered where they were going and where they thought they were. They were several miles from water. On their side of the small highway on the Eastern shore of Maryland sprawled a shopping center with a supermarket, restaurants, movie theater. On the other side spread a bit of green field and beyond that more stores and beyond that woods, and beyond that the water—the Tred Avon River which eventually flows out into the Chesapeake Bay.

I was tempted to turn around and try to get a picture, but by the time I could make the turn and get back, they would likely have flown away. Instead, I carry their picture in my mind. I love ducks.

What kind of creature would you be if you were a creature? I would be a duck. Not a lion or giraffe or bear, not a gazelle or panther. No, I’d choose a duck. They can walk and swim and fly and are good at all three mobilities. They are modest, but much smarter and more ingenious than given credit. They have “a remarkable ability for abstract thought,” and “outperform supposedly ‘smarter’ animal species,” according to the Smithsonian. I am fairly certain walking down the highway, they were not debating the Mueller Report or the 2020 U.S. presidential elections, thus demonstrating already a more transcendent point of view.

I’d choose a mallard with the purple-blue wing feathers, the striking green set of feathers around the head (though that is only the male), stepping gingerly with big webbed feet, then gliding onto the water and when the mood strikes, lifting off the water into flight. I could live practically anywhere I wanted in North America, South America, Africa, Australia, Asia. I don’t have enemies except for humans who want to shoot me, and I have a pleasant disposition most of the time. I watch and listen, cooperate well with a group and have an uncanny sense of direction.

Readers, thank you for indulging this moment of fantasy in an effort to lift above the serious, yet endless and tendentious issues on the ground here in Washington.

What kind of creature would you be, at least for a day?


  1. Fawzia Assaad on April 25, 2019 at 1:22 pm

    I treasure ducks. Would love to be one of a couple
    Thank you, Joanne
    Fawzia Assaad

  2. Susan Howell on April 25, 2019 at 2:56 pm

    Thanks for your wonderful and much needed “duck-world escape essay”! Love your choices and reasoning, making me appreciate even more all the V-shaped formations of ducks and other birds migrating over the fields and highways of Oregon. And how refreshing to contemplate “a more transcendent point of view”!

  3. Lynne R. on April 25, 2019 at 4:30 pm

    I loved hearing about your inner duck! And I loved imagining your driving on route 33 on the Eastern shore enjoying all the delights of that area. That part of the world brings out a new aspect of life. Thank you for the charming article.

  4. Katherine Stephen on April 25, 2019 at 5:01 pm

    A charming blog post.

    Thanks very much, Joanne, for posting it.

  5. Joanne on April 25, 2019 at 11:27 pm

    Thank you everyone for your comments and thank you fellow duck lovers🦆

  6. Pati on April 26, 2019 at 9:58 am

    The ducks are beautiful and your thoughts are lovely. Thank you for for a few moments of serenity, Joanne.

  7. Ronny on April 26, 2019 at 9:58 pm

    Thank you for your lovely flight of fancy!

  8. Malcolm on April 27, 2019 at 5:02 pm

    Quack, quack. Lovely piece Joanne,

  9. SC on April 29, 2019 at 10:19 am

    I love getting your emails. This one was particularly perfect, because I recently developed an appreciation for ducks- for all of the reasons you mentioned. My very first improv team (which I am still a part of) has a duck for our symbol. Ducks are super social, community oriented and loyal- which are all qualities that we feel about our team.

  10. ducksdebest on March 10, 2021 at 10:53 am

    My sister LOVES Ducks

Leave a Comment