Macrina took a looooong flight today. I was standing in the little ducks’ pen when I heard the familiar sound of flapping wings. I looked up to see her about 200 feet away from me and 30 feet or so in the air, skirting the edge of the trees to the north. Clearly she had been down in the woodland near the athletic field. This is a major flight distance for her. I assumed she was heading back to the rocks and stone benches where the big ducks spend most of the morning, but she never wavered. On past the house and out of sight she flew.
Though all the big ducks do fly, Bernie rarely does (I think he’s too heavy to enjoy it much), and Petra and Basil only fly short distances, and then only when it suits them. So far I’ve seen no (human) logic in what triggers these short forays into the air.
“Well,” I thought, “there goes Macrina.” And I meant it literally. She’s gone. She’s discovered the lure of a larger world, and it’s a lot more interesting than home. I worried. It’s a lot more dangerous, too. The wild geese and ducks will peck her to death. She’ll get lost. The coyotes/raccoons/hunters will kill her. She’ll starve to death. She’ll never want to come home again. She’ll be injured in some painful, horrible way that causes her to suffer for hours. Maybe days.
Wait a minute. She’s a duck in a beautiful duck environment. I was standing there, worrying like a human mother for a child heading off to college. Macrina is barely domesticated, really, and her ability to survive is instinctive, not something she needs to learn the hard way. Of course awful things can and do happen. Everything in the entire Universe is subject to destruction, and eventually it will happen to each of us, for some a prettier process than for others, but it will happen nonetheless.
There is something deep within us that cares for the other, for beings that appear to us to be not-us, which is an illusion, of course—we are all infinite expressions of the One. That means caring is instinctive, hard-wired within. It is a powerful and necessary force for survival. Over the past 13,000 years or so we’ve done a dangerously good job of putting this tendency toward caring to sleep, but it’s still there.
It may be a sleeping giant, but thank goodness it’s not a dead one.
By the way, Macrina finally appeared soaring in from my left. She’d made a huge aerial circuit through the woods and around the house and school. She was checking out her environment, taking risks. And this time she came home.