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?