Our neighbors are raising a flock of ducks that waddle about their property in a little troop, bickering back and forth. Whenever I walk out into the yard, I can hear their quacks and blatts and ratchets from across the road, an enjoyable counterpoint to the squawks of our chickens, who gather at their fence and croak toward us, hopeful for scraps. Most of the time, the ducks seem unruffled and predictable and even somewhat stern. That is, until it begins to rain.
Whenever it rains, the ducks lose any sense of composure. They cry out together in their loudest, harshest voices. They begin, as well as they can, to run. Much of the time they abandon the safety of their yard and take to the open road. My entirely unscientific theory is that water speaks to the most primal part of them. Their natural habitat is falling from the sky. The world is calling, and they must go.
My children do the same thing, I think, when we arrive at a trail head and they sprint on ahead of me, squealing down the path. And I used to do the same thing as a little girl, when I set off over the fields or climbed a neighbor’s fence into the hills to watch the sun set. It’s a feeling I covet now, too often undetectable beneath my daily duties and all of my pretenses to knowledge.
But lately it has been returning more and more to me, this animal love for the earth. I can hear the wild world calling again, and I want to take off after it, my voice high and loud, my footsteps fast and frantic and light.