Pondering the difference . . . and ducks

As temperatures fell below freezing with no hope of rising above it until Tuesday (and even then only by a few degrees at best), the threat of treacherous ice accumulations loomed ever nearer.  The situation between now and Monday could be quite interesting.  It also could be yet another example of Texas weather throwing the meteorologists for a loop.

Irrespective of precipitation, however, the temperature is already a done deal.  No one could deny the frigid world outside.  And it’s supposed to get colder before it gets warmer.  As someone who prefers arctic excitement to tropical malaise, this change excites me.

But I’m inside… with heat… and blankets… and food… and cats.  Life couldn’t get better (save winning the lottery, mind you).

In realizing my own contentment on this day, I began remembering a different time.  It was last summer.  The heat carried days to heights well over 100° F (38° C) as we simmered in the Texas sun.  I dressed minimally yet remained miserable.  My air conditioner hummed along in strained attempts to maintain some level of comfort.

During a walk at the lake, I found mallard ducks (Anas platyrhynchos) were not immune to the blistering, torrid days.  Sure, a swim certainly provided a cool diversion, yet it left them under the full weight of the sun.  When finally the time came to rest and escape its cruel and reaching rays, they came ashore.  Like all smart ducks, they immediately sought reprieve from the onslaught.  And where does a smart mallard take leave of an omnipresent star?  In the shade of a tree, of course.

Mallard ducks (Anas platyrhynchos) resting in the shade of a tree (146_4629)
Mallard ducks (Anas platyrhynchos) resting in the shade of a tree (146_4651)
Mallard ducks (Anas platyrhynchos) resting in the shade of a tree (146_4652)

Now that the weather pendulum has sought refuge on the opposite side of the seasonal clock, I ponder how those same ducks cope with the glacial air now settling upon us.  And when (if) the ice starts and creates a frosty floor upon which they must stand and lie, what then?

Having had ducks as pets many years ago, I’m well aware of their ability to cope with the cold.  Yet a difference exists: our ducks had enclosed shelter with plenty of fresh straw where they could escape the elements.  So I wonder…

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