If you are reading this, you have arrived at my new website, marianbeaman.com – welcome! It is still a work in progress.
Another introduction is in order: I have been dying for you to meet my new neighbors who live peacefully on the lake behind our patio. After 5 months living here, we are beginning to get acquainted with them. All of them . . .
- know how to swim
- take deep breaths
- keep themselves clean
- engage in courtship rituals and mate
- huddle together in a peaceful community
- communicate with language
They don’t look at all like us or speak our language. Every one of them has feathers and they talk to each other with a “quegegege” or a “rhaeb, rhaeb,” or “honk-honk” which we have tried to de-cipher. These waterfowl are trying to tell us something. Obviously, we need language lessons.
And, in other ways they have been our teachers.
Lesson 1: They know how to breathe. They can relax.
Birds do not run out of breath. They literally fly into it. To make our lungs expand, we contract our diaphragm. When we relax, the rib cage moves to its regular size and we exhale. Most birds breathe in the opposite way. Their muscular effort expels air, rather than drawing it in. When they relax fresh air is automatically drawn in.
Animal Speak: The Spiritual and Magical Powers of Creatures Great and Small, Ted Andrews
Lesson 2: They shop locally for organic foods.
Ducks dip into the water to find seeds, roots, insects, and plant leaves. Their Creator has equipped them with fabulous, anatomically constructed dippers: “The duck uses its bill to scoop up mouthfuls of water. The water drains out the sides of the bill, leaving the tiny plants behind. Now the duck can eat the plants without having” to drink gallons of water too! (Mary Ann McDonald DUCKS)
Kenneth Grahame : Author of The Wind in the Willows
All along the backwater, Through the rushes tall, Ducks are a-dabbling, Up tails all!
Lesson 3: They love community life.
Our waterfowl are communal, except for the egret. “Because of its connection to water, [ducks are] linked to feminine energies . . . and to the emotional state of humans.” ~ Animal Speak
My neighbor Jane observes: “See that white duck. It’s really vulnerable. It can’t fly I think because its center of gravity is too low. It has no apparatus for getting airborne. It flutters, rises a few feet and then plops into the water again. The mallard ducks protect it, encircling it, especially at night.”
Lesson 4: The female duck (hen) has a strong maternal instinct.
She lines her nest with down from her breast. When she leaves it to eat or drink, she covers her eggs with down to keep them warm and hide them from crows, foxes, raccoons, snakes, and other predators. ~ Hipp
Lesson 5: Ducks are flexible. They adapt easily to water or air travel.
Water: Duck feet are webbed and work like paddles, pushing them through the water.
Air: They rise to the occasion! As with airplanes, birds’ takeoffs and landings are two of the most critical moments in flight. Birds, like this egret, need a gust of air to help them rise from the water.
Several times a day, I see them get into formation and wait for that special updraft. My guess: the quacking that immediately precedes their takeoff could be translated Ready-Set-Go. You can see what I mean when you click on the short video below:
Lesson 6: They know how to keep clean.
“Ducks have a special oil on their outer feathers. This oil keeps them dry and helps them float on water. The oil comes from a spot near the base of the duck’s tail. The duck spreads the oil when it cleans, or preens its feathers” almost every time it comes out of the water.” ~ Mary Ann McDonald
Lesson 7: They accept outside help.
Every so often, a white truck pulls up to the edge of the lake, and an eco-friendly engineer jumps out, unloads his boat, and sprays the water. (For PH balance? To eliminate mosquitoes?) Although our duck community has no choice in the matter, they don’t seem to mind and continue to thrive.
Human Wisdom from Duck World:
Wise ducks know how to handle their bills.
Women who start out as ugly ducklings don’t become beautiful swans. What they mainly become is confident ducks. They take charge of their lives.
How about you?
Do you remember President Reagan repeating the line after an attempted assassination in March 1981, “Honey, I forgot to duck”?
Ducks and geese populate our lake: Canada geese with black heads and neck and a white chinstrap with body a brownish gray. And mallard ducks, the male with bottle-green head, chocolate brown breast and black rump. ~ Stokes Field Guide to the Birds, Donald and Lillian Stokes
Are there ducks or geese in your neighborhood now – or experiences with them tucked away in your memory?
Congratulations, Marian, and all your team, for a successful migration (just like geese) to a new website. I love the clean, uncluttered, look of this site. You are getting set up for a book and increasing your reach with this lovely new theme.
The first photo especially popped out at me. Lovely light on your grandson’s face! Are you using a smart phone or SLR camera?
You are first in many things and here again at the “inauguration” of my new website – ha! And you always notice details. There is light on Ian’s face because of the angle of the sun, not because of any particular finesse with my simple iPhone. Cliff has a fancy new camera, so the images take longer to upload and he has to figure out video-making with it.
I noticed your new post just out and will peer at it more later: a sonogram and an antique photo, very intriguing!
How lovely to spend a little time this morning with your birds. I recognized a few as ones we see up here come summer. Given them my regards.
You lived in a wild life preserve in Chincoteague and from what I see of glimpses of your home in Vermont, you are surrounded by the chirps of many varieties. You’re so funny, Janet: “Given them my regards!” Thanks for being an early bird here, very encouraging.
With a lake in our back yard, we have many of the same visitors, Marian. My favorite, the great blue heron. He’s a masterpiece when flying across the lake. The website looks great!
You and I have something else in common – a lake in the back yard. We have an egret, just one, but not a heron, which I picture with a wide wingspan. Because birds navigate between earth and sky, they obviously bring inspiration, at least I like to think so. Right? And, yes, a large bird is a masterpiece in motion. Thanks, Jill!
What a beautiful scene along with your grandson. I too have these lovely ducks all over my yard. We’re have a lake in the back of our house, but they like coming here the grandchildren enjoy them. I do to when I sit on my deck. It’s nice to wait on them to move off my drive when I come home. They are always in a crowd. Nice to have you back.
Thanks, Gloria. I have missed you all too.
I’ve been told not to feed the ducks, especially on your own lawn, as they will get used to it and make a mess of the grass. I’m glad at least three generations can enjoy the wildlife around you.
The other day when I was driving to the bank, two mallards waddled leisurely across the street. Apparently, they haven’t met up with any reckless drivers yet. 🙂
The new website’s looking good Marian.The pictures and the lessons are fabulous.
I’m with you on the peace and understanding front.
xxx Massive Hugs xxx
Thanks for following me here, Sir David. The ducks on our lake co-exist peacefully. Yes, we can take valuable lessons from them. Huge hugs to you too today!
Good morning, Marian. The notification of your post must have come while I was putting up mine. I echo Shirley is congratulating you on your migration!
I love how you have commented on the wisdom learned for your avian neighbors. The geese, ducks, and I think egrets, too, seem to winter here, and I wonder how they manage. We have geese all over the place. They “graze” like cattle on fields. Geese also tend to be monogamous–and may stay with one partner for twenty years.
When I was teaching, my colleagues and I all picked a totem. Mine was a swan: They look graceful to my eye and mate for life. I feel like a lucky duck to have Canada geese and mallards. No swans on the lake, only 1 or 2 in my curio case.
I’m glad my subscribers could follow me here, you among them.
What beautiful neighbours; we would be delighted with them! We do have a new large pond that was created with the new housing development and have some gorgeous birds too to enjoy whilst walking the dog, including a couple of stunning egrets. Enjoy!
Oh, Fatima. I’m under no illusion that this lake is natural. Housing developments require lakes for re-off. Still, I’m glad the need sustains companionable wildlife. I will not hesitate to follow your suggestion: enjoy it we do! Thanks for meeting us here today.
Your new website sparkles, Marian, and your first piece, Ode to backyard lessons–is beautiful. Living creek side, I also have ducks, geese, egrets, hawks, owls, deer and coyote for neighbors. Many life lessons to learn as we co-exist and thrive.
Hope your book is moving along well!
Oh, Beverly, I realize how much I have been missing with so many joining in here with thoughts about their own enjoyment of creeks and ponds and lakes. The website set-up has taken a toll on my time and energy, but I have had one beta reader for my memoir. Still a lot a lot a lot (repetition intentional!) of work remains to be done. How about you?
I must admit, when I saw your title, I wondered if you were calling your grandkids (or yourself) “quacks”! I really enjoyed your post having spent many hours admiring ducks, geese, egrets and herons on my own river and in the fields where I work. They are covered in snow now and it appears the Cdn geese have finally flown south. Wish I could join them! 😉 Glad the website reno is going well (and hasn’t made you quack up”)! It’s looking great! Blessings!
As you know from your own blog, a little bit of punning goes a long way. I’m glad the title drew you in. For a few days there I thought I might “quack up,” but here we are. I realize I need to do some tweaking of items that failed to migrate – all in good time! Blessings back to you, Jenn.
Love the new format. A brave act on your part… congratulations!
You say, “A brave act . . . ” But here’s the back story: I answered the call in an ugly website contest and won honorable mention. So I stuck my neck out and this is a result. Some of the comments haven’t migrated, but I have some hope that I can retrieve more content. As I said, this is a work in progress. Thanks for noticing, Mimi!
As one who lives with and listens to animals (chickens, bees, cats, wild ravens and hummingbirds and many more wild ones) I love your “rhaebs” and “queejees.” If only they counted as Scrabble words!
Thank you for your endurance into your new look here. I miss the covering.
Some of these sounds come from Stokes Field Guide to the Birds, linked above. Yes, of course you can use these words in Scrabble Why not! :-/
By the way, the covering is still here – you can find it on my about page. Just go to the top and click on the “Select page.” The “About” should show up. So good to hear from you, Dolores.
I love where you are now living! I love bird watching, deer watching, duck watching, etc! This was a fascinating read today! We have a small pond on our property. But we have to go to it, we can’t see it from our windows. But even so, we’ve seen mallard ducks, deer, fox, etc. I love nature! Thanks for posting this today!
You’re welcome, Anita. I picture you in a woodsy setting too. In fact, I’m sure I’ve seen it on your blog, your husband on a tractor. Yes?
What a gorgeous new home you have. The only thing I miss about my house is that there is no lake. We used to live on a reservoir and I was enthralled by the birds and wildlife that lived there. I’m so glad you are enjoying your new goose and duck neighbors. They are marvelous teachers and I’m sure your grandkids love them too.
Also love your gorgeous new blog!
Thanks for the compliments all around. You know the value of nature as teacher and nurturer, especially during the rigors of the writing process, which you understand so well. In my humble opinion, you deserve a rest, maybe a spa by a lake.
We have a lake close to our house and I have referred to the goose and duck life several times in my blog posts. They are fascinating creatures. Thanks for sharing your insights. Your new home seems a lovely place, so close to the water that you can see it from your deck. I have to walk a little to get there, but that way I get some exercise!
Elfrieda, I have started following your blog just recently and have missed the goose-duck blog posts. Maybe you’ll re-visit those topics or I can check out older entries. I walk around the lake and get exercise that way, far better than treading on concrete sidewalks.
I’m happy to share my version of a setting even Thoreau may appreciate.
I do like the website the way it is now. As someone said, uncluttered.
We don’t see many Canada geese this time of year as they are probably vacationing in your backyard. There is a pond in a park by our church that stays open in the middle most of the winter and has a bevy of ducks and some geese. They were all quacking wildly Sunday morning.
We have a pond on our property that freezes over. It has duck families over the spring and summer. We try to keep the geese moving on as they make such a mess. It’s a very large pond…the family used to harvest their ice from it for the ice houses.
Thanks for voicing your approval, Athanasia. My guess about the wildlife in the pond by your church: an avian choir.
I remember visiting the geese on my Uncle’s farm – very messy deposits on the sidewalks; we had to watch every single step. It’s good to hear from you again.
Hooray, Marian! Congratulations on your slick new website. It’s lovely as are your photos. I especially like the one with your grandson looking on. How nice to have daily reminders of how to live life from these feathered friends. Thank you and welcome back!
As always, thank you for the affirmations, Kathy. You live on a farm; I live by a lake, good grounding for the writing life. All the best as you forge ahead with so many projects in the new year. 🙂
O such gorgeous photos Marian! I would find such beauty in your lake and inhabitants that I would be mesmerised. Perhaps turn into a mermaid. We have squawkers-sacred ibis-land on our lawn from time to time. Plenty geese on golf courses.
Loved the life lessons
and your website is lovely!
I fear your lovely mermaid may get bitten by a water moccasin on our lake – or nibbled by a wee fish. You would certainly enjoy Ted Andrews’ Animal Speak, with the intriguing subtitle: The Spiritual & Magical Powers of Creatures Great & Small with lots of references to anthropomorphic symbolism.
Thank you for the compliment, Susan – I appreciate your noticing.
My favorite line from this post? The Maeve Binchy quote. Priceless and oh so true. I really appreciate your closing comment as well. Pray for our country. Yes. Beautiful post. Beautiful new blog look. Very clean and welcoming.
Thank you, Luci. I put great stock in your assessment, being as you are from the millennial generation. You probably know instinctively how to handle the “select page” options, which threw me for a loop at first. Blessings to you too, as you forge ahead with your amazing manuscript.
Wow I feel all spring cleaned and I can almost smell the fresh paint …love it . What wonderful photos of the birds and SUNSHINE ☀️ need some right now for all sorts of reasons .
We have a campsite just down the road from my half house and it has a lake . For the last two or three years the .Canadian Geese arrive in the spring and their delightful babies and then fly off late summer . It’s amazing to see them . One year I thought they had gone home early and then I spotted them all together right in front of me, by this time the babies were teenagers . The whole family waddled past me not at all perturbed 😁😀😀 love it . Enjoy my sweet .
Your Canada geese sound human. Well, they sort of are: mate, have babies that grow up before you bat an eyelid. I guess they feel your delight because couldn’t bring themselves to fly away, at least not yet.
How lucky you can ping-pong between your house and a campsite, which sounds like a wonderful retreat. Connecting with the animal world takes the edge off things, as your little anecdote proves beyond a shadow of a doubt. Thanks, Cherry!
Your new site looks fabulous! Well done. I love your new neighbours. We live across from an abandoned lemon grove which has become a home to many birds. A couple of months ago a family of 5 egrets moved in for awhile. Such lovely birds. I agree with many others, the first picture with your grandson is very special.
Thanks, Darlene, for partnering with me in this journey. The website re-do was definitely more than I bargained for, but now that’s it’s done (almost) I’m glad I persisted. I have a feeling you would say the same for book publication. 🙂
Love your analogy and lessons garnered from nature around us.
It is so true…if we look we see.
Lovely crisp blog happening 🙂
Your description is unique: “Lovely crisp blog happening!” Thank you, Alexa, for the kind comment.
Nature has so much to teach us, and I enjoyed letting wildlife be my teacher for this post.
Your lovely photos make me homesick for Florida and wishing I was gathering with the rest of my sibs and Mom in Sarasota next week. It wasn’t in the cards for me. Geese are fun to watch but not so fun to walk behind, as I often do visiting Mother’s retirement community in Goshen where huge flocks make their homes and uppity swans chase gardeners out of their patches.
But on to my congrats for your new website! Sounds like it was hairy getting here and makes me reluctant to do a similar update. Perhaps in time I will feel the call.
If you read a previous comment, I responded to an “ugly website” contest which was offered by the web designer who got me started with blogging. The site migration was the big problem with thousands of comments to transfer. I don’t know enough about the technology involved to detect exactly where the problems originated.
Your daughters could probably give you good leads on a trustworthy designer. Essentially, I made the change because of the limitations inherent in the old website which I began in 2013.
If it’s any comfort, I’m in Pennsylvania now visiting Aunt Ruthie, so the temps outside may resemble Harrisonburg weather.
Thanks for taking the time to read and comment here. So appreciated, Melodie!
Your new space is lovely! Congratulations on a successful migration!
Thank you, Linda. This is high praise coming from one whose website sets a high bar. The migration was mostly successful with a few loose ends, part of the growing process. Thanks for noticing.
You did it, Marian! It’s nail-biting and sleep-disturbing to do a website overhaul. Your new site is beautiful and easy to use. Spacious and open. I succumbed to pressure from my sons and editor to re-do my site before my book came out. I’m so glad I did.
Now to ducks and geese. Thank you for introductions to your neighbors and neighborhood. My favorite duck story is of the mallards protecting the white duck. It’s reassuring to know they’ll protect someone from a different family. (It looks like you have a few good bird identification books.)
I have geese flyovers on my land in fall and spring as well as blue herons in the air in the summer. Occasionally I see a duck in a swamp on my land, but if I drive three miles downhill to Seneca Lake, I’m in duck heaven. Plus there are many small ponds nearby with resident bird families. May we protect them all.
Marian, you might ask your website designer to add TwitterCards to your site. With TwitterCards, the featured photo is shared on twitter when the post is shared (much the same way the photo is shared on FB). It’s probably an easy time for you to add that feature. (I just shared this blog on twitter, but there was no image.)
Elaine, I did a cut/paste of your observation about TwitterCards to my web designer. We’ll hope for a quick fix. Thank you!
Elaine, you were the one to introduce me to the Stokes Handbook. I hadn’t heard of that one.
To me, mallards protecting the white duck is analogous to families from the global community welcoming and protecting refugees, especially from war-torn Syria.
I appreciate your close scrutiny and value all your opinions, Elaine.
Marian, you made my day by appearing in my inbox with a new post on your new site!!! YIPPEE! So good to read your words and relax through your images. I suspect this new design may have something to do with your soon-to-be published book. Does this mean I need to do a new site if I publish my book???? Oh, noes!
Seriously, the place you and Cliff chose as your new home appears to be sitting in a patch of heavenly presence. I could feel His Spirit in each photo, and flowing through your words. Thanks for a lovely morning meditation experience.
Sherry, truthfully I am far from publication. To be precise, I’m looking at the first beta-reads of my manuscript and have not done any query letters at this point. I just getting prepared with the new site.
No, I don’t think you need to pressure yourself! I’ve always regarded your website as the gold standard, and I think you engineered it all by yourself – wow!
Thank you for the inspiring words. So often I believe I must look like the duck serenely floating along but with the webbed feet paddling madly underneath. What you sense must be the Spirit moving through me; I am only a channel. Blessings to you in your writing journey too.
Congrats Miriam! Your new blog is lovely and wow, what a fantabulous view from your house! Wonderful post about the ducks and geese. I learned that the oil on their feathers help them float, interesting.
A few houses ago, we had a house built in a new development. It was supposed to remain greenspace but a developer managed to purchase the land. The first few years we lived there the geese strutted up and down the street daily and we could hear them pecking and walking on top of our roof! It took a few years for them to relocate, but certainly they were wondering what the heck had become of their home.
The green space behind the lake is developed with luxury homes. However, there is a sensible buffer of woodlands between us now. In our former home we had to fight the encroachment by a huge Walmart. As in your case, the forces of nature and development clashed at the time.
Geese on top of the roof – now that’s a new one! When we visited Ukraine, a stork on the roof was considered good luck.
Thanks for breaking away from your busy schedule to read and comment. I’m glad you found it entertaining and educational. 🙂
Beautiful! Sparkling! Clean and fresh! Congratulations on your new website. You did it! And you begin it with a fabulous post about the water fowl in your lake. Educational and wonderfully interesting.
I will never forget the time my guy and I were walking around Nantucket and as we were looking at a pristine lake, we saw a lovely swan. And then when she took off it was the most beautiful expression of joyful engineering. We stood there for a long time just mesmerized with the sight.
Sparkling, fresh and clean was what I was aiming for. If you think I hit the target, Pam, well then so I have. Golly, gee – thanks!
Waterfowl show us the pattern for living gracefully. I just want to sit and stare and be mesmerized too!
Congratulations on your website. I know you worked hard and agonizing to get it just right and producing a new look but with the same much sought after posts!
A nearby admirer!
Dear nearby admirer,
Thank you for partnering with me in this wild and crazy project. Special thanks for designing the fresh new logo. You fell in love with plain and got fancy – right?
Cute, Marian! And wise. Yes, there are ducks and geese around, overwintering. And nearby is an enormous flock of swans on the Mississippi. They huddle together to stay warm, I think. Another lesson from nature.
I know you and spouse have moved recently and picked up being restaurateurs again too. Right? Thank you for reminding me of another lesson from nature: How to stay warm!
Your mentioning Mississippi reminds me of your recent out-of-state move. And a life-style change too! Wow, Tracy, you are resilient. Just moving 8 miles down the road in the same town threw me for a loop.
I’m glad you can enjoy waterfowl too. Seeing them gliding on water is enormously calming, isn’t it? 🙂
Haha, love it! Our old house had a pond in the back yard and the geese were always so nice to watch. My husband named two of them “Lucy” and “Goosey.” Now we are out on a peninsula and we have deer in our neighbor’s huge front yard every day.
Welcome, Stephanie. So nice to see you here. It strikes me that a third goose may have been named “Gander.” 🙂
Deer are fun to watch, but I hope they don’t nibble on your plants. I had to put netting around the impatiens and other blooms because of their nocturnal visits.
Like Elaine, I loved the bit about the white duck. Probably an escapee from a farm or backyard flock. I own 2 aylesbury-type white ducks and it’s true that they can’t fly. Originally bred for meat and eggs, they are just too heavy. So nice to know that if they wander off from my home that they still might survive with the mallards.
Hi, Heather, and welcome to our conversation here! I suppose the duck’s center of gravity is too low for flight. They go ker-flop after fluttering for a few feet. Until my neighbor pointed out the encircling mallards, I would never have known they may have been protecting the duck from predators like coyotes or foxes.
Thank you for reading and commenting today. I’m glad we have this connection.
Marian — I love your new website! It’s vibrant and crisp! And your neighbors are delightful.
It’s Tuesday, so it must be Laurie. I accept your compliment and feel honored that you stopped by to comment. Family affairs have called me away from writing for a spell. How I would relish a retreat/sabbatical/fellowship/sisterhood right about now. One day it will be my turn. All my good wishes for happy productivity. 🙂
I too love the light, airy feel of your new blog look! And what wisdom we can gain from nature. Lovely shots of your new neighbours.
You have been gaining wisdom from nature for years now. Your many blog followers and commenters attest to how well you connect with them with pictures and poetry.
By the way, my husband took photos of the egret and also caught shots of its flight in stages.
Marian, I love this post and the pictures!
There is a small, private lake adjacent to our cottage in Ontario. We had Canada geese, ducks and even a beautiful blue heron (looking a lot like your egret) generously let us share it with them!
Your post reminded me of just how magnificent they are. Thank you for that!
And thank you for following me to my website, Kate. I appreciate your commenting too!