Ducks Unlimited

It’s certainly been lovely weather for ducks lately.  I’ve never seen a year with so much rain, but ducks seem to be in short supply.  I’ve been searching for ducks for my mother to paint, but they’re also such fun creatures to watch, with their waddles and dives, and their graceful swimming.  

On a warm September day, we visited a waterfront park, where we found this lone duck swimming in the blue water of the bay…

While his brethren were all down at the end of the parking lot enjoying the pop-up pool from the last torrential rainstorm. 

Maybe the eats were better?

There were warning signs not to feed the ducks, especially bread which is the equivalent to duck junk food, but we met an old man who came to the park every day to do just that. I suppose if you’re 95 you’re allowed to break the rules. He buys five dollars worth of french fries, and potatoes are vegetables so they might qualify as vegetarian fare, but my research shows they’re not recommended either. 

After a short swim, they congregated on the grass to dry off and take a nap.

I like the mallards with the green heads the best, but I wonder if that one with the blue stripe isn’t a bit of a rebel, like you see with people who have a single stripe of purple in their hair.

The black and gray ones are striking too.

While we were chatting with the old man, the ducks suddenly all rose up together, as if on some secret signal, and flew over the bay.  Too bad I didn’t have my camera ready as I was standing in the middle of a flurry of duck wings and it would have been a great shot. I wondered who, what, and why they had made for the water.  

As a tribute to the popularity of ducks there are more duck idioms than you can count….as easy as duck soup, a lame duck, like water off a ducks back, to take to something like a duck to water, to be a sitting duck, to be a lucky duck, to have all your ducks in a row ….another thing I have not been lucky enough to photograph.  

And who can forget that scene in the Chinese restaurant from The Christmas Story, where the waiter chops the head off the duck because it was smiling.  Duck a la orange may be popular and people may rave about it’s crispness, but no, just no.  I’ve had it once, at a dinner party, only to be polite, but also because there was nothing else to eat, and found it very greasy.  Besides, how can you eat Donald Duck?

Ducks Unlimited is an organization committed to the preservation of wetlands.  It’s been around forever and there’s a Canadian chapter, and I always thought it was a noble cause, but after reading on their website that the majority of members are hunters, I may have to rethink that.  It does seem somewhat hypocritical, maybe just as bad as eating duck at a dinner party?

I did however enter mom in their art contest a couple of times.  It’s not that the prize was great or anything, the winning entry was put on a postage stamp or something, but I though it would be good exposure.  They weren’t interested in folk-art paintings however, as the winners were always so technically perfect they could have been photographs. 

When we visited the small pond at the children’s animal farm, a few years ago, it was overrun with ducks and geese, hence this painting…

Duck’s Unlimited

but all of a sudden most of them disappeared – relocated somewhere else for population control.

Last year the pond water was so thick with green algae scum that it looked like grass, and I could only find these two.

This year when we visited, on a late October day, they were irrigating the water.

These may be the same pair, but at least they have cleaner water.   

With the reflection, it looks a bit like a Monet painting.

I’m not sure how they decide which ones are penned up?

Last stop, was a small inland lake, but as you can see no ducks in sight…..

…..although there were plenty of Canadian geese. There’s never any shortage of them.

This lake was the inspiration for an older oil painting of my mother’s, one of my fall favorites.    

And lastly……

Can you believe these duck sweatshirts were all the rage here in the eighties? There was an entire store devoted to them, in a whole range of colors, for men, women and children. I had an aqua green one which I think I wore once. Not sure if that is a duck or a loon on the logo, but it’s close enough, although loons are a whole other post – the call of the loon being a much more haunting sound than quack quack!

39 thoughts on “Ducks Unlimited

  1. Ally Bean says:

    This is a quacking good blog post. 😉 I know I’ve heard of Ducks Unlimited but didn’t know their mission which seems a bit confused. I’ve had duck a la orange under similar circumstances to yours and thought the same thing– too greasy for me, too weird to eat Donald Duck. Your photos are lovely and your mother’s paintings are beautiful. Happy Fall!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Joni says:

      Thanks Ally! It was a surprise to me too to read that about Ducks Unlimited. I’ve seen people order duck in restaurants and rave about it, so maybe there’s an art to cooking it, but it’s not for me. I put it in the same category as veal and lamb, things best not eaten. When I was reading that Stanley Tucci book (Taste), which I loved BTW, he ate puffin in Iceland, and I thought, how could you….such cute little birds.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. www.rosesintherainmemoir.wordpress.com says:

    I used to walk the children through three different neighborhoods to reach a park with a small lagoon of Mallards and a few Canada geese. Of course, we carried a bag of stale bread pieces, not know they weren’t allowed. Lots of folks did. And did those creatures waddle and quack, stalk and honk! Then along came the children of my children, and I felt so privileged to walk them to the duck pond.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Joni says:

      I think most people disregard the signs. It seems to be a universal fun thing to do with little kids even now. My mother has been feeding the birds/squirrels/lifestock with leftover bread all summer. She dumps a dish of it under the shelter of an evergreen tree, but it’s always gone the next morning. I think they prefer it to the birdseed in the feeder which is harder to get at!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Joni says:

      Thanks Annie! She’s gone through different styles of painting. I like the older oil paintings as you can get more texture in the picture, but it does take longer to dry and the smell of the turpentine is why many artists switch to acrylic.

      Like

  3. DM says:

    so I’m thinking you take these pictures for your mom and as she sees fit uses them as still shots she can paint? I really like the one that is feeding by itself “maybe the eats were better?”

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Linda Schaub says:

    I enjoyed this post Joni (albeit very late after you posting it – I am five days behind in Reader thanks to more yardwork and a final push to finish shopping for Winter last weekend, plus one long walk). I remember you and I were chatting about the little pop-up pools thanks to Mother Nature and this one looks deep. I like your mom’s paintings – did you find enough duck photos for your mom to paint from over the Winter? I have never had duck a l’orange before but my father liked duck, so my mom made them or cornish hens, which I’ve mentioned to you before – both were dark meat and greasy. They made a big mess and I remember my mom would be mad about that – we never had a dishwasher. I didn’t know Ducks Unlimited had hunters – I dislike that! I think we have a local chapter here too. I was at the Wildlife Refuge recently and heard gunshots. I thought it was from Point Mouille which is another three or four miles down the road. But the constant gunshot sounds were a real interruption to what I hoped would be a peaceful morning. So I walked into the wooded area and saw signs to be careful as “waterfowl hunters were along the shoreline and in the marsh.” I got out of there right away – didn’t want to see any ducks falling down from the sky either. My parents and I used to drive to Amherstburg and visit a restaurant called “Ducks on the Roof” many years ago. They had duck decoys everywhere and a duck theme. We had (still have) duck decoys around the house, so it was fun to go there.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Joni says:

      Thanks Linda! I’m behind in Reader too, but only 2 days soon to be 3 as I don’t feel like reading tonight. I must admit I was kind of surprised that it was a hunter supported organization, with like 90% of the members being hunters. I certainly wouldn’t want to hang around and see any ducks falling from the sky either! I don’t know anyone who hunts here period, despite living in the country all those years. Other than that flock of 20 or so near the popup pool the only pair we encountered was at the children’s animal farm. I showed her the photos, but she didn’t seem that interested, I suppose because she had painted them a few years ago. Sometimes I run out of topics for her to paint. That certainly sounds like a unique restaurant! Did you get all your yardwork done? I’m finished, other than another round with the grasscutter chopping up the leaves which are still only half down and I need to turn the outside water off too and bring in the hose, otherwise it looks all neat and tidy. One of these days it will turn cold and you won’t want to be out there!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Linda Schaub says:

        I have not made it over to Reader again but tomorrow will be better as I have no more posts until next Monday now. I hate being this far behind, I really do. The weather has been great and I was trying to finish up all my Winter shopping so I just have perishables to buy the next six months, plus the yardwork, plus walk as much as I could as the weather was cold but gorgeous, then since Sunday warm and gorgeous. I will have to rake leaves in the front at least two more times unless I wait and don’t rake this weekend and they will all fall down. I’m annoyed at several things – the next door neighbor with the tree does not believe in raking. But she usually has a lawn-cutting service. The guy’s not been here in two weeks. So maybe he’s done for the season. She will not rake, but will likely wait until the end and blow them in the street (not allowed). Today it was windy – leaves flying down from the tree and over from her yard – covered all over. So I can spend about $8.00 – $9.00 on yard waste bags and eight or nine hours of my time raking, so she sits in the house doing nothing. Plus, I had paid my lawn-cutting guy through November 15th – he comes Mondays, so 1st, 8th and 15th. His helper (son) is back at school (college) and the other helper quit, so he shut down his business for the season. He told my neighbor (who doesn’t work and neither does his son who lives there, but they have a lawn service). I sent a message to Jeff last week and said I didn’t hear Steve and thought he was a day behind due to the all-day rain the prior week. Jeff said “he couldn’t get help, so he stopped the end of October.” I e-mailed the guy as I paid in advance and yes he is mailing out the reimbursement, but still … I had to rake 2X and cut the lawn. His riding mower would have picked up lots of the leaves. This last six months has been errands and re-doing things … car still not fixed, window going down on its own again, A/C charge leaked. Drycleaners sent half my order to another store, so had to return. Someone stole two of my valve stem caps on my tires and loosened the other two. I park in the garage so don’t know when/where that happened. I got an OnStar report that my tires were at 27 instead of 30 PSI. So I went to a tire store to check it out – apparently there is a rash of this happening. He filled the tires, replaced the cap and I went and bought four new caps and watch it every day. What a year – all the distractions. I finally finished my Winter shopping this morning – paper towels, came home and put it downstairs, then went to the Park. Supposed to potentially snow this weekend, so want to get it all done. I like the white Pekin ducks – they put them in a kiddie pool and fence them off at our petting farm too. I hope you can find some birds or critters for your mom to paint over the Winter.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Joni says:

        That would be frustrating. I’m concerned re the theft of your tire caps esp. as you park in the garage? Is there a lock on your garage or could someone have stolen them when you were in a parking lot somewhere doing your errands? Are they just doing this for mischief or do they sell them? I must admit I’ve never looked at my tire caps! My grasscutter has to come back one more time to chop up the leaves, whenever they are all down I’m to let him know. You shouldn’t rehire that guy again, if he can’t communicate that he quit early – did he think you wouldn’t notice once you’d paid him?

        Liked by 1 person

      • Linda Schaub says:

        I was so furious about everything and I did get the check in the mail for the three grass cuttings he missed. Last time, two years ago, we had that snowstorm, so he couldn’t mow, but how many people does he need to do it – he only had one helper. Sigh. And the neighbor with her leaves. The rain made them stay in one place or so I thought – when I came home from walking, the wind picked up and leaves were fluttering down. Her grasscutter never returned in November, so she’ll have no choice but to bag them. We’re not supposed to put them in the street. She will try. Stupid, lazy – just rake them and be done with it. Tomorrow will rain/sleet and Sunday some snow. Almost all the leaves are down now – if the snow melts, I will have to do them Sunday afternoon. This was a maple seedling that the couple put a fence around and fertilized it about 18-19 years ago. Then moved away. I snickered about it with my mom and said “stupid – it won’t last the Winter” – I should have pulled it out when it was an inch tall. He said “see you in the Spring” and I wrote back “okay, will keep you on board until I retire.” But yes, communicate better. Michigan is a hot spot for this fourth COVID surge – we are considered 2nd in the nation as a hot spot. Yesterday 15,878 new COVID cases and 83 additional virus deaths. We have a lot of unvaxxed people which is causing the surge and they are worried due to Thanksgiving coming up in two weeks.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Joni says:

        Linda, those stats are scary. We are inching up again but that’s about 600 for the whole province of 14million. Locally, we have around 2-10 new cases a day, with maybe 30 or so active (it was up to 60). I am hoping opening the border is not going to cause a problem.

        Like

      • Linda Schaub says:

        They reported 21,034 cases and 95 deaths over the past three days. They are very worried about after Thanksgiving next week. Your cases are not bad at all and I hope the border opening up does not increase your stats. I am glad for the three vaccines and that I’m done with grocery shopping. I wear a mask even at the Park, anytime I step outside the door.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Joni says:

        With those kind of stats, I would wear a mask at the park too! I think those people must be nuts – I don’t see Covid going away anytime soon with those kinds of stats. Sometimes when I see US news I read that 80% of the population is vaccinated, which is about what he have here, but it can’t be in all of the states….

        Liked by 1 person

      • Linda Schaub says:

        That’s why I wear a mask 100% of the time – I have to put the lens defogging spray on my glasses. They were getting fogged up this morning. Today in Michigan we got to 70% – great, herd immunity, or that’s what the original herd immunity was supposed to be, but that’s just for people over 18 and that could be that they got one shot only in the case of the mRNA vaccines. So that is not good, but they said today the hospitals are full of COVID patients, so likely elective surgeries will be postponed again. We are currently in the same boat stats wise as we were in April 2020 here in Michigan. So not great at all. And some states are really bad – some states are about 70%. I ‘m glad I finished the shopping and can rely on shelf-stable items after my current perishables run out. The less in public, the better.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Linda Schaub says:

        I told them I will deal with it in the Spring – they can take off the door and fix the window to keep it from rolling down on its own if I just press the button to crack it open a little, plus they need to fix the A/C as it leaked/evaporated and the door locks (if they can get them) … but like the grasscutter, could they not contact me at some point and say “we’re still pursuing getting the locks, just hang in there.” No, nothing. Frustrating. Yes, the tires were worrisome to see they went down like that and did someone interrupt them taking the cap off the other two? I do park it in the locked garage and no one uses the car nor goes into the garage but me. They are stealing catalytic converters too. And we have a bunch of teenagers/young adults carjacking cars from women in the area. They caught three of the gang of six. I don’t think it was all in the night-time either. I am keeping up with that story … three doors will stay locked, but can’t open the passenger side without me leaning across and opening it, then opening the the front door to unlock the back door on the passenger side. I ordered one of those emergency devices to break a window/cut the seatbelt because if I had an accident no one could help … that’s worrisome. But once I put the car in gear, the door unlocks next to me, so I leave the car in gear, stop the car, open/shut, then lock the door. It’s a pain, but I wasn’t taking it in on a snowy Winter day – they said it would take a day or two to fix anyway. I don’t like driving in snow/ice, so said fix it in the Spring. I was not really nice about it.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Linda Schaub says:

        I figured it was just here for the catalytic converters – terrible and I’m glad I park in the garage. The snowflakes morphed into rain and I had a really short walk, but got to the Park and was happy for that, but the car needs a run. I’m not anxious to to Lake Erie Metropark as there are lots of car/deer accidents due to mating season and deer-hunting as of today until the end of the month (for firearms). So they run out don’t need any more issues. Saturday will be nice, Sunday not so much.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. indianeskitchen says:

    I love ducks, we have a duck pond near us with a spring (blue hole) and the water never freezes. There are always ducks, geese and any birds that hang around in the sub zero temperatures. I love seeing your posts with you mom’s paintings.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. J P says:

    You remind me of two favorite old shirts. Duck Head was an old clothing brand and the shirts had a little green mallard head on the pocket.

    I remember a pair of ducks that used to regularly traverse my office parking lot.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Joni says:

      A little green mallard head is acceptable, but an entire loon is not! The Northern Reflections store was a purely Canadian invention, and luckily not a world wide trend. That must have been a funny sight – those lucky ducks – maybe they were on their way to work!

      Like

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