Doing what comes naturally…

4 Apr

After I left for college, my parents moved to the country and built a house that backs to woods and a river. They’ve spent a good portion of their retirement staring out at the river through binoculars or a spotting scope, monitoring the wildlife. They both enjoy it, and for my dad – who is a retired biology teacher – it’s about as good as it gets.

It’s wood duck mating season, and to help with their population efforts, my dad has constructed wood duck houses and attached them to trees all through the woods. In years past, we’ve seen the down-covered hatchlings emerge from the house and drop 15 feet to the ground in their maiden “flight.” This year, I’m here in time for mating season, and the river is wild with activity as ducks shop for mates.

Yesterday morning as I was reading a book, my dad was watching the river. “Whoa!” He exclaimed. “I think we have a Wood Duck gang bang going on!” My mom, who was washing dishes in the kitchen, was also looking out the window. One thing to know: my mom is a fervent feminist and she gets pissed off when female animals get pounced on for sex.

My dad’s exclamation got her attention. “Is that what’s going on?” She asked. “Oh look – she can’t get away. They’re all piling on her. Go honey! Run! If only she could get free for a minute, she should fly up here and hide in one of the houses. I’d protect her!”

For a minute I thought my mom was going to grab the BB gun and take matters into her own hands. It wouldn’t be the first time. Fortunately, my dad spoke up, “I think it’s just a bunch of male ducks down there now. They’re just so worked up they’re all trying to mount each other.”

And for some reason, even though I was in rural Michigan, staring at a river, in that moment I was reminded of my home in Dupont Circle, where it’s also possible to see an all-male pile-up. It the end, I suppose it all does come back to nature.

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