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Deep Ducks July 24 09

Ducks are deep. I say this with some hesitancy, since I also happen to think that Ronald McDonald is deep, an opinion not shared by everyone. But ducks are deeper. They’ve just got to be. Any bird that appears on the surface to be as comical as a duck has got to have plenty going on below the surface.

Then again, maybe not. It’s possible that hidden beneath all that comicality—beneath the absurd waddle and that impossible-to-take-seriously quack—is a mind that is thinking, “Duh.” In fact, based on my personal duck experiences, I have to admit there’s solid evidence that ducks are just plain dumb. Their drollery isn’t just a cover-up to keep us fooled while they plot to take over the world.

I guess I just like to think that ducks are deep because: 1) it’s fun to say; 2) saying ducks are dumb could get me blacklisted by duck lovers; and 3) dumb as they are, ducks are nevertheless beautiful birds. And it’s that mix of beauty and goofiness that makes ducks so entertaining, and beloved by so many people.

Grand Ledge west of Lansing has one of the best duck feeding stations you’re likely to find. Off of the parking lot across from the island, a short stairway takes you down to the edge of the Grand River. A contingent of ducks has found this location to be a pretty good thing, as thoughtful humans show up regularly to feed them. The place is a veritable melting pot of duckdom, with ducks of every ethnicity and even a few geese coexisting beautifully, united by their shared appreciation for an easy handout. We could all learn something from them—that is, if they could communicate with us in relevant terms. “Quack” may be amusing, but it’s not particularly enlightening.

The island I mentioned above is an attractive place. A footbridge takes you from the parking lot across a channel of the river to the island’s east side, facing the gazebo. From there you can walk a quarter of a mile down a wide, nicely paved path to the westernmost point, where there’s a clear view upstream toward the railroad trestle that spans the two high banks east of Fitzgerald Park.

While the ducks like to convene on the flat sandbar across from it, the island itself is a favorite location for human activities. Wedding parties use it for photo shoots, shaded by stately poplars with the river drifting leisurely by in the background. Craft fairs add a splash of color and interest toward the latter part of the warm months. Walkers, fishermen, and picnickers all find the island a place to unwind and lose the fast pace of life to the unhurried current of the Grand River.

It’s a lovely place. And of course, there are the ducks. From mama mallards leading miniature flotillas of irresistibly cute ducklings, to pure, creamy white beauties, to big bruisers of indeterminate (to me, at least) species and origin, you can’t miss them. If you want to win some friends for life, or at least for fifteen minutes, just bring a few slices of bread with you. You’ll get plenty of entertainment out of the deal.

Don’t expect much more than that, though. If you’re looking for a truly meaningful exchange that rises above the duckish instinct to eat, forget it. Ducks aren’t that deep.





Written by Dave.