Black and White

It’s hard to believe that less than six months ago when I heard the word “duck? I automatically thought of a barnyard duck, the one every child knows goes “wack, wack,? or the mallard duck, even vaguely thinking that mallard, not drake, was the proper name for a male duck.

I somehow managed to not see most of the ducks that populate our world. When I thought of ducks I thought of those beggars at the local park that came rushing up hoping that your guilt over destroying their environment will cause you to offer them some small crumb of attention.

I should have known better, and on a conscious level I’m sure I did, because an old friend collects various duck decoys and has them all over his house. So much for being a fully conscious, outdoors type. Perhaps I would have been more aware if I were a hunter and knew that my tag only applied to a particular duck, for there’s nothing like the possibility of a fine to create awareness.

Even now, I’m guilty of assuming that I’ve seen something when I haven’t, though I like to believe I’m becoming more aware. The other day I told someone that the black-and-white ducks in a nearby pond were a Barrow’s Goldeneye,

but they weren’t. In fact, once I got my pictures home I realized that they were really a duck I’d never seen before, a Ring-Necked Duck, recognizable by the ring around the beak.

Although I can now easily distinguish between black and white ducks like the Bufflehead and Surf Scoter I showed a few days ago, faced with an unknown duck too often my mind tries to fit into categories that I already know rather than realizing it is a separate species.

That’s the problem with black and white thinking, isn’t it? We unconsciously classify new experiences in terms of past experiences, whether they fit or not, and, in doing so, miss much of the true joy of life, joy that can only come with true awareness.

4 thoughts on “Black and White

  1. Campus Ducks

    Poised above a brick lined puddle,
    Each on one webbed foot,
    Bills tucked tailward,
    Beneath folded wings.

    A mallard and her green-necked drake
    Silently rendezvous,
    Oblivious to hordes of students
    Passing between classes
    On a wet windy Red Square Monday.

    They peer at me,
    Expecting food,
    Suspicious,
    Only for a moment,
    As I squat behind them,
    One foot in their puddle.

    What must they think,
    I wonder,
    As my fingers come to rest
    On the feathers of their tails?

What do you think?