Pool on the Hill

It starts with a huge splash followed by manic flapping of wings, punctuated by a few quacks: a cherished early rite of spring.

Year after year, a mated pair of ducks land in the neighbor’s pool to herald the coming of spring, despite the snow that often still flew. It was always so exciting to hear that initial splash, followed by our excited chorus of “they’re here, they’re here!”

We often wondered: could it possibly be the same two ducks every year or was it their offspring who picked up on the pool where their parents left off?

No matter, it was soul soothing to watch them as one went off to find food for both and the female disappeared to sit on her nest in a secluded spot nearby. It was fun to hear the splashes of their landings in the pool, and the enthusiastic quacks of the greetings they gave each other. Then one day, mama duck emerged with her ducklings waddling behind her and soon, they be gone, until next year!

Next year came, and so did the ducks. Only before long, the male duck was alone and he started screaming and screaming and screaming. It was heart wrenching and a clear signal something was very wrong. The female didn’t return and he was screaming for her. Surely she would return? She didn’t. On the road the next day, there sprawled a duck, silent and dead.

Gradually his cries subsided and eventually, he left the pool. Ducks mate for life, so I wondered if he’d find another mate and another pool.

This is the first year it’s been quiet in the pool on the hill. No splashes, no quacks, and no joyous welcoming of spring except for the forsythia that blooms, yellow and quiet, in our side yard.