Monday, March 30, 2009

Three visitors

This morning we had three visitors to our front lawn, the very same lawn that played host to the green woodpecker a few weeks ago. Three Mallards came visiting. The female duck in her dowdy brown and white tweeds simply squatted on the hoar-covered grass while her attendant drakes stood guard duty around her. They marched in step around her like guards in full dress uniform. Their heads covered in bottle green sheen contrasting with their yellow bills, their thin white dog collars separating these green helmets from the russet breastplates. The main body of their uniforms was a pleasant grey – the light grey of a fine-tailored suit – but a black back stripe separated left from right, like the black cross on the back of the donkey that carried our Lord into Jerusalem.

If you have ever been to Athens and seen the National Guard on parade outside the Presidential Palace you will know what I mean when I liken their gait to a formal parade march. No-one would use this walk as a means of transportation. It is a formal march, without the menace of German or Russian goose-steps. Each step is performance that takes months of coaching. The movement is emphasized by the orange webbed galoshes that each of them wears. As they turn you notice that they both have black curly tail feathers, just two or three, protruding at the rear of no possible use, as if to demonstrate that this whole performance is just that. It is just for show.

The dowdy little princess that they are protecting takes no notice. She has her own thoughts and as if she has had enough of sitting on the cold grass. She gets up and waddles off mid performance. They continue their marching, slipping their heads forward in a jerk that precedes every step, even though I am now the only witness, then suddenly both fly off in a rush and flurry like jets launched from an aircraft carrier.

In thirty years of watching that lawn I have never seen Mallards (nor woodpeckers) before. Is it because I have never really watched before, too busy, too distracted? Or is this some special way the Lord is blessing me? Encouraging me that He is really there?

Whatever, I am certainly feeling better. The cramps are largely gone and are no longer so painful. I have put on another couple of pounds and am eating pretty normally.

Chemotherapy should begin this week or next. Things are moving.


Anonymous said...

at the peabody hotels in memphis and orlando there is a fascinating afternoon tradition...the march of the peabody ducks...which makes afternoon tea very entertaining.

I've spent the last few weeks in the southern USA and have enjoyed watching various waterfowl and wetlands birds. The fledglings and their behavior is especially interesting.


Pat said...

Loved your story.
All one winter my back deck was visited by two quail, a Mr and Mrs. Without fail, they visited each day no matter the weather. On the coldest days, as they huddled close together, Mr Q would wrap one wing around Mrs Q.
I never tired of watching them and hoped to find a nest nearby but never did.
Watching fowl is a peaceful activity, indeed.

John Galt said...

Dr. Hamblin,

I heard you were ill from Alan Sullivan over at Fresh Bilge.

You are in my thoughts and prayers. May God grant strength and peace to you and your family.