Sunday, June 24, 2007

Let Them Spread Their Wings

To kick summer off, Kyle and I went camping in the Sierra's this weekend. Lot's of hiking, kayaking, and s'mores! But, there were some neat lessons learned as well.

Our campsite was on the Kern River, right at the start point for the Kayak Course, a 200 yard run of solid Class IV whitewater. While we scrambled on the rocks, I reminded Kyle to be careful; if he fell in, there was a good chance he'd drown going down the falls, holes, and washing machines.

As we listened to the roar of the rapids, a mother mallard and four ducklings started making their way across the pool above the rapids. We watched as they slowly got sucked into the current. Just before starting down the chute, the mom flew out and safely to shore. The babies? They dropped in and were flushed through 6-8 foot drops and chutes, and enough swirling whitewater to drown a fish...

Kyle and I watched the mom, sitting in the pool, and tried to figure out why she had been so stupid, and why she continued to quack uselessly for her brood. There was no way those ducklings were ever coming back.

After about 10 minutes, I was relaxing on the shore of the pool with a nice microbrew when I yelled to Kyle "You're not going to believe this!" One of the ducklings was making it's way along the opposite shore towards his mom, who was now quacking quite loudly!

I started to go into a speech about perseverance and never giving up when two more came along to join them. But the forth wasn't there. After another 10-15 minutes, it still wasn't to be found.

I told Kyle that in nature, 75% survival rate was pretty darn good, and that the three who had made it had become stronger as a result. We watched as they swam up the pool, around a bend, and out of view.

As we started up the bank to our campsite, we barely heard it over the sound of the rapids; a series of high pitched "cheeps." There was the fourth duckling, on our side of the shore, walking, scrambling, and swimming upstream! His mom must have heard the cries, because shortly thereafter she and the ducklings joined up to become whole again. This, near;y 35 minutes after the original plunge.

Aside from the lessons to kids about never quitting, I found a few as well; Don't underestimate kid's ability and desire; Let them take plunges now and then; and never question the power that family can give someone to overcome the greatest of obstacles.

This first shot, taken on the Kern River, shows a juvenile brood of mallards. Not the ones that took the plunge (the were still little fuzz balls), but you can guess they probably took their own plunges. Those river ducks are hard core! The second shows Kyle at the mouth of the kayak course.


GrammaStamper (Barb) said...

Geez, I was teary-eyed by the time I finished reading this post. What an amazing story and I know how difficult it is to let your kids fall from time to time (I've got 4, all grown up now and wonderful adults, too). TFS.

hutch ink designs... said...

awww are making me think about what I have to look forward that's going to be so hard! Your photo's are breathe taking! So glad you had a good time with your son- camping!


Anonymous said...

Lots of lessons in nature. It's neat to see how you apply them.