El Pato Ha Vuelto!
Many years ago in early April I bought four mallard ducklings at Blue Seal Seed and Feed. They were tiny, and like most poultry in this county, they had been mailed with their siblings to the feed store when they were one day old. They lived in a crate and swam on our pond. One survived the nightly predators to full maturity. And because we wouldn't clip his wings, when Fall finally arrived, nature's plan took over. He flapped his wings, circled the pond, quacked a few times, and flew away toward the South. His name was "Tricky Duck." And he was a traveler.
Remarkably, he came back every Spring. He brought his mate with him. And then his children-- I imagine they were his children-- returned each Spring with their mates. And then his grandchildren. And their mates. For almost twenty years.
This Spring has been quite cold and bitter; there have been geese, but, so far no appearance by Tricky Duck.
Tonight was cold. Although it's April, it had rained and snowed and sleeted and hailed all day. Although it's April it was barely 32 degrees. It was so cold and foggy tonight that I only heard 2 or 3 peepers singing to each other. Usually at this point we have gigantic choirs of peepers and celestial oratorios.
But then, tonight, a surprise. I heard him quacking in the dark. Tricky Dick's unmistakeable quack. Quacking to the dog to stay away. Quacking to the sky spirits. Quacking aloud. Quacking for joy. The duck has returned.
Today there was very sad news. My colleague Gerry suddenly passed away. He used occasionally to tell judges, before he was one himself, that if something looked like a duck, quacked like a duck, and walked like a duck, it was a duck. He was not talking about Tricky Duck, whom he didn't know; it was usually about some legal point, some faint and quite distant analogy. But tonight, Tricky Duck's quacking in the dark and fog seemed a fitting, first memorial. He is already missed.