About speaking to ducks

Flying ducks

I know you’ve been waiting for it.

Here is the promised wee talk about ducks. It’s been sitting in my blog drafts for a couple of days waiting for a moment to finish it.

“What do you do when you see a duck?” I asked Jane, as I came in from work the other day. “You know, you’re walking alongside a stream and you spot a duck. What do you do?”

“QUACK!!” said the lovely Jane, quacking at me.

“What about a sheep?”

“BAAAAAA!!” bleated Jane accomodatingly.

“And a cow?”

“MOOOOO!!” obliged Jane.

You see, I do the same. Or at least I did until about a week ago when I realised that … I quack at ducks.

In St Andrews I park down by the Kinness Burn, a wee stream (or in Scots ‘burn’) that effectively runs the length of the town, and near the small footbridge that crosses the Kinness Burn live around 50 or so ducks. Yes, I counted them. I counted them a couple of days ago when I was on my way home and came across a scene from that unmade Hitchcock film “The Ducks”.

So you can see that on my way to work and on my way home from work I have more than your average office worker’s opportunity for meeting ducks. And just the other week I realised that whenever I see one of the ducks I always quack at the first one that I see.

But why?! What is it about animals that makes us want to communicate with them? It’s not as though they try to communicate with us. It’s not like when ducks approach us you hear them say things like “Awright!” or “How do you do?” So why do we try to communicate with them?

And, as Jane so ably demonstrated, it’s not just with ducks. We moo at cows, baa at sheep, meow at cats, and bark at dogs. I say “we”, I asked a couple of people at the weekend what they do when they see a duck.

I think to myself, Oh look there’s a duck!

was disappointingly the most common answer. Of the three people I asked.

Last week, as I was walking home, I realised that I’d stopped quacking at the ducks. Instead I was saying things like “Hello Mr Duck”.

Like that was a less mad thing to do!? So I’ve begun quacking at them again. I think it’s just the way things are meant to be.