W ith the hum of ground crickets a constant now, I feel that familiar ache in the face of summer’s waning, – lingering days of light and symphonies of sound. Around our pond, dragonflies hover, seemingly suspended and then hurriedly head for a perch. Like self-appointed pond guardians, a flotilla of Green frogs sits camouflaged amongst mossy green algae, motionless, watching, waiting.

There was something in that conveyance of trust, the vulnerability and the lack of inhibition in my presence that moved me deeply.

The water feels refreshing after my morning hike. Breaking through to the surface, I realize I am being watched. There are five of them, slicing through water in the way ducks do. And they are heading in my direction. 

They are the juvenile wild mallards that hatched earlier in the summer. Under the watchful eye of their mother, one could catch glimpses of them threading their way through cattails and under the willows. Their mother has flown on now. Having not seen them in a week or so, and never so close, they had been an unexpected but delightful sight when I arrived.

For many years, this watery paradise with its’ transitory and permanent inhabitants, and ever-shifting waterscapes has held me in thrall. But the mallards that visit from time to time have been elusive. Often in the process of arriving, or leaving in a flurry of indignant quacks, their webbed feet skim the glassy surface, long wings arcing downwards.

But these youngsters seem different. Undeterred by my presence, they glide closer.

After a time, I swim to the water’s edge and in turning around, realize my feathered friends have gathered behind me. Standing in the shallows they are preening themselves with great gusto. I sit down transfixed, not wanting to disturb this moment. To my delight, when they finish this little ritual, they clamber up onto the pond’s edge, and with much ruffling of feathers settle down next to me for a rest.

Perhaps it was the nuzzling of beaks into dappled feathers or their heads now turned backward, resting, with one eye open but I feel a deep pang of grief.

There was something in that conveyance of trust, the vulnerability and the lack of inhibition in my presence that moved me deeply.

 I want to say, I am sorry, for all that has been bestowed upon you, your kin and all of the more than human world, but most of all, I want to say thank you for being.

A number of years ago, a friend said to me, “the wild things” saved you. As a child I would head to the woods and fields, the places, and spaces in which I never felt alone. All I had to do was listen, watch and wait. In the words of Hazrat Inayat Khan, “ everything in life is speaking in spite of its apparent silence”.

It seems like such a simple thing, this unexpected meeting, this moment with five wild ducks, and yet, it is just that, this simplicity and stillness suffused with grief and gratitude that echoes in my heart and soul. 

And like an ancient remembering, there is a profound and humbling recognition of our interdependence.

We live in a world of beauty and heartbreak. There are days when I struggle to reconcile the two. In these chaotic times, it can be so easy to yield to the call of despair and to lose sight of the mystery and majesty of this planet which we call home.