Is that your duck…or just a quacker?

lessons-from-ducks

As many of you know, I live on a beautiful lake in east Tennessee. Words like “breathtaking” or “beautiful” are so inadequate to describe the beauty and nature that I am fortunate enough to see each day. It would be like saying that a hurricane is a “little wind.” Words are just useless…but, hopefully, you catch my drift. Each morning, I look forward to what the day may reveal in the way of natural beauty and nature. We have had a wonderful Spring – not too hot, not too cool. Just right! And, oh my, the flowers, smells, sunrises, sunsets and new little “nature babies” are everywhere. So this week’s post is about some of those little babies…

We don’t know what happened to her, only that she was hurt. At first, we couldn’t figure out whether she had been hit by a car, been in a fight with a predator, or had gotten her foot stuck in a crevice or between rocks. The bottom line, however, was that she could only hop around on one foot. There was no way we could catch her, to take her to the vet. We simply had to watch her struggles, and each morning we were greeted with apprehension as to whether she had made it through another night, or had succumbed to the injury and died. Despite all the odds, she seemed to get stronger each day, and although her foot did not completely heal the way it was supposed to, she could still fly, and she now walked with a limp – a little “hop” actually. So one of our neighbors (the animal-loving ones…) named her “Hoppy.”

For the past three years, we have looked forward to Hoppy returning to our lake (and homes) each spring. This year, she had a little surprise for us…she was pregnant, and ended up having 11 (count ’em – ELEVEN) little ducklings. They have been adorable and we have had so much fun watching their “antics,” and watching them grow each day. As a result of my doing this, I have made some huge discoveries regarding motherhood.

Each day, this little mother has been responsible for feeding all of the ducklings, teaching them the “ways of the wild,” and keeping them safe every moment of their lives. (By the way, she really is a single Mom, with no help from anyone else, with the exception of a few neighbors who put out food for her and the babies.) We usually try not to count how many babies there are, because when you see that one is missing, you know that something bad happened. But I can’t seem to help myself, I count. So far (and they are almost totally grown now) she has only lost ONE baby. That is remarkable for this lake area, as we have eagles and hawks!

I have spent hours watching them, and what I see amazes me!! On one occasion, she apparently sensed some “danger” nearby, emitted a little sound that I could just barely hear, and every one of those ten babies swam to her side as if she were a magnet, and then they swam as “one unit” away from the danger, with her wings spread over them. You could hardly tell where a duckling started or ended. They looked like one bundle of feathers going down the lake.

I have watched as she finds a food source, and makes certain that each duckling is eating – all while she fervently scans about for danger. She is at attention and on guard every moment. Once they have all eaten, she will eat a little herself, and then off they go. It has been so much fun watching those babies learning how to eat. Some times they get too tired and will simply lay down in front of the food and eat. Other times, they will peck around the area quickly, getting as much food as possible. On another occasion, we had just put a little cracked corn out for them, knowing that they would be showing up within minutes to eat. In fact, they were in the next lot, watching us, waiting for the food. Mama took her time, but as she was watching the area closely, three HUGE crows zoomed into the tree just above the pile of corn. “In a New York second,” Mom gave another signal (I never heard it…), and ALL TEN of those babies raced over to the food before the crows could even get out of the tree! One crow made the mistake of trying to peck a little one, and Mama gave him a pretty good bite. He did not make a second attempt, and the babies got the food that was intended for them.

After eating, Mom took them back down to the water, and showed them how to “clean up.” She ducked her head under the water, came back up, spread her wings and flapped, all the while cleaning herself. Once she had done that a couple of times, she then gave another “silent” signal and all the babies began doing the same thing! Some got it right; some had to work at it a little harder. They were so adorable, doing everything that Mom did in perfect synchronization.

Those babies are smart! When Mom gives them direction, they respond immediately! They don’t lag behind, they don’t question “why,” they just act upon her instruction. Somehow they know that their livelihood and success depends solely on the teachings of their parent. And, of course, watching them got me to thinking about human parents and what lessons they are teaching their children. Do they let their children “slide,” and not follow directions or advice? Do they teach them lessons for failure or success? Do they love the children enough to be disciplined and to discipline? And most importantly, do they teach them by example? Those baby ducks get it! They KNOW that if they don’t do exactly what Mom is doing, they will not live to see another day. What are your children, grandbabies, nieces, nephews, etc., seeing when they watch you or observe your daily life actions? Is it something that will help them face the battles in life? Will they learn love and respect by watching what you do? Will they learn how to treat others with kindness and compassion? Will they learn how to work together? Will they realize the wonder and joy of what it means to be part of a family? Are you teaching them skills that can be used to succeed in life? Just WHAT are you saying to others as you live your life each day? Animals seem to get this…wouldn’t it be wonderful if humans got it too? Won’t you join me? Just for this week…

 

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Her knows her numbers…

I have had the love and support of wonderful family and friends throughout my entire life. They have given me complete and unconditional love. While most family members are connected by birth and genetics, some are connected by choice. This week’s post centers around one of those “choice” family members.

My best friend has been one of those forever friends…46 years and counting…Her family has been my second, adopted, family – by choice. And my family has become her second family; again, by choice. In fact, when we would meet someone new, my Mother always introduced my friend as a daughter, saying that she had been her “easiest” birth. We always laughed each time she said that. 

You share quite a few spectacular moments in that many years of friendship! One of the privileges and honor that has fallen my way, is that I get to be an Aunt to her nieces and nephews. Today’s post is about “our” niece, Sarah Adison. From the moment that she was born, we knew she was going to be exceptional. She was so adorable…an “easy” baby; good-natured; always smiling; and never demanding. She was such a little conversationalist as a child. She was so smart that we all thought we might need to take some educational refresher courses just to keep up…

She and her Mom would occasionally stop by our offices to visit. We always kept a CD of Dr. Seuss and Winnie the Pooh stories for her enjoyment. On one particular visit, when she was 3 years old, we were about to watch “Green Eggs and Ham” on my computer. Sitting in my lap, as the computer was booting up, she turned to us and said, “The computer is reading the CD so that we can watch it.” Over her head, my friend looks at me in astonishment, and mouths, “Is that right?” Of course, I responded with a shake of my head…YES, that’s right!! And only 3 years old…

We knew when she started school, that she was going to absorb every morsel of knowledge available…and then some!  She was taught in Pre-K by her own Mother, and a little boy from their church was in the same class. He was mesmerized by Adison. He came home from school one day, and talking about Adison to his mother, said in awe, “Her knows her numbers!” We got such a laugh out of this sweet little guy’s words.

We have watched these past 12 years as she grew and matured into a dynamic, well-balanced, young lady. She had apparently established educational goals for herself (since the 7th grade), and certainly, she exceeded them. We attended Class Day last week, and WOW!!! The number of accomplishments and honors that she received were simply overwhelming. As a family, we learned of her perfect scores in national and state tests…maintaining a scholastic score of 95 or better since the 7th grade!! We teared up when she was announced Valedictorian…and welled up again when it was publicly noted that on campus, she is simply known as “Friend.” That’s her nickname!! So you see, she seems to have it all…the smarts and the heart!

She will graduate this coming week and I wanted to honor her publicly. She will never know the depth of our joy, pride and love.

So yes, her DOES know her numbers…and her A, B, Cs…and her Calculus, and her Physics, and her Latin, and her Greek, and pretty much anything else in the world!! This lovely young woman was told from the very beginning that she could do anything, be anything…as long as she was willing to work for it. And, oh my, did she work for it! And why not excel? She was given love, support, guidance, prayers, and faith by her family. Now she is ready to begin the next “phase” of her life – college. What an adventure!! Won’t you join me in celebrating her accomplishments and the beginning of this next chapter in her life? Just for this week…Sarah Adison, you ROCK!

I did what you said….

It seems that it is back to school time…everyone is rushing around trying to enjoy the last few days of “summer freedom,” and parents are attempting to clothe and “supply” their children in order to be ready for that first day… No matter how old I get, I still think that I should be getting ready to go back to school when it nears September. Just to let you know how bad I am about this, and how strong that “pull” is for me, I will share a little secret. At this time of year, when I go into a store, I find myself invariably drawn to the school supplies aisle. I will pick up those “composition books,” new pencils, etc. and hold them to by nose and just breathe in that wonderful smell of “school.” I’m sure I have been flagged in numerous stores as “that woman who sniffs the school supplies.” She’s baaaccckkkk…. So, of course, this week’s post is about school….

My Mother told me that when I was five years old, she was cooking dinner, and I walked up to her at the stove and said, “When I grow up, I am going to college.” Now, I don’t know how on earth I even knew what a college was. We were poor, lived on a farm, and had no TV. However, she said that she never doubted for a moment that I would go, and that I would attain that goal. Twelve years later, I was off to college. I got grants, scholarships, and worked constantly to pay my way through. I did attain that goal. Upon graduation, I was determined to work in my field of education and make a career for myself. I attained that goal. I said that I would have my dream car, a midnight blue corvette, five years after graduation. I attained that goal also. You see the pattern here; right? It started very early for me…

My grandmother had a sister, whose name was Mabel. However, EVERYONE called her “Spunk.” So, to me, she was Aunt Spunk. When I entered the first grade, she told me that if I made all A’s the entire year, that she would give me a dollar. Now, it may not sound like much money to you, but to a five-year old back then, a dollar was a lot of money!! So I worked hard all year, and sure enough…I made all A’s. The first thing that I did when I got the report card was write a letter to my Aunt. My mother did not know anything about the letter – I just “took care of business” on my own. So the letter went something like this….”Dear Aunt Spuck, I made all As. Send me that doller.” I addressed the envelope to “Ms. Spuck,” with no street address, but I did write the town (it was a different one from where I lived) and state with no zip. She got it!! In the return mail, I got her congratulatory letter AND the dollar!! I was so pleased with myself. Fast forward sixteen years later and I was graduating from college. My Aunt Spunk gave me a wonderful graduation gift, and secretly hidden within the gift was the envelope and letter that I had sent her sixteen years earlier, asking for that “doller.” She had kept it throughout the years to give to me, and I still have it today. It serves as a reminder that if you set goals, and work hard, you can attain pretty much whatever you want…

I don’t understand how people get anything accomplished if they never establish goals. Every few years I will ask myself…is this what you wanted?…do you want to change anything or do anything differently?…is there something else you want to accomplish? It is a bit of hope, faith, dreams, belief in one’s self, and a LOT of hard work! As “cliche” as it sounds, today really is the first day of the rest of your life. What are you doing with it? OR what do you WANT to do with it? I want to make the most of my life…and I work at it every day…Won’t you join me? Just for this week…