A few weeks ago I mentioned Aaron’s childhood dream of incubating duck eggs, which fueled years of seemingly fruitless prayer, study, and excessive searching through the appropriate habitats in pursuit of a mallard hen’s laying ground. We did some massive minimalizing before moving to Minnesota, during which he finally tossed the old incubator he’d built specifically to hatch those longed-for childhood ducklings. Sometimes his sciencey nature completely baffles me, like when I peek at the detailed lab notebook he keeps every year for his garden with spreadsheets tracking how many plants germinated with what fertilizer and watering schedule, etc., and in those times it’s good for me to remember they are just the grown-up expression of everything that made that little boy hunt for duck eggs.
In the same post I also mentioned that we were not going to be raising any waterfowl at this house. You know, because Aaron works long hours and already caved on the “no-garden thing,” we now have a dog, we have no money, we’re having a baby, and even small hobby livestock is illegal in this city, among other things. (I try not to be a pessimist, but I manage to come up with a long list of reasons not to do almost everything “cool.”)
With all this in mind, it makes perfect sense that nearly 20 years after the height of the egg-hunting, Aaron went exploring with Max and discovered a lone duck egg on the shore of a small lake, which he promptly brought home and kept in a drawer while waiting for a new incubator to come in the mail. (Mama Ducks lay their eggs one-at-a-time at the water’s edge while they build their nest for a few weeks, then recollect whatever hasn’t been eaten by raccoons and start sitting on them all together, so they hibernate for a bit, and it was OK to set this one on it’s own for a couple of days.) It’s now been incubating cozily in our closet for the past few weeks, and Aaron is very proud that we can see the outline of little duckling growing when he holds it up to a flashlight.
There are many possible devastations that could yet occur with this little duckling, like a failure of our extremely low-quality incubator or the fact that we are simultaneously raising a dog with the specific breeding to instinctively put birds in his mouth. We also have no idea what we would do with it once it becomes a grown-up, since we have no backyard pond. (It’s one of those dreams we had to let go of for this house.) I’ve heard that hand-raised ducks often migrate when they see the other ducks flying south, so that might happen… We’ll see. For now, we’re just turning the egg according to schedule, and monitoring the temperature of the incubator while laughing about how birds keep showing up as tangible expressions of God’s love for us.
Come on, little duckling! We are rooting for you!