Going for walks in nature is one of my go-to introvert activities, in which I can leave behind all technology, obligation, and mandatory sitting. (Side note: it perpetually frustrates me how sitting is the requirement for almost all social gatherings. The human body was just not meant to sit all day.)
In any case, the particular nature walk I am about to share with you happened a week ago and left me with an unforgettable impression. It occurred to me while watching these events unfold that this is the sort of drama that probably happens all the time in nature, but we just don’t pause to appreciate the comedy of it all.
And so, thanks to a recent writing prompt from Sam Kirk, I will recount the dramatic altercation I witnessed at my lake last weekend—brief, but memorable:
Mr. and Mrs. Mallard stroll down the dusky bank on a romantic Friday evening, their webbed feet in step with one another.
With a coy look in his eye, Mr. Mallard suddenly arises and flutters down into the water– an invitation Mrs. Mallard accepts.
The pair glide gracefully in the water for a moment, savoring the serenity of their solitude… until a third, lone female without a date joins them in the water with an abrupt splash.
ENTER: the third wheel.
For a touching moment, the couple swim towards the lone female, as if to welcome her and assuage her sense of isolation. (I must admit, my heart welled with warmth at this sight.)
But suddenly Mr. Mallard emerges from the water and spreads his wings with an indignant hiss, startling our lone female and sending her into flight! He pursues her up into the air, hurling insults and disdain at her intrusion upon the couple’s outing. At last our third wheel vanishes into the trees and Mr. Mallard descends back into the water, where Mrs. Mallard awaits.
With their privacy restored, the pair return to their intimate evening on the lake.
Sam’s prompt encouraged writers to examine their daily experiences for story material—anything that could lay the groundwork for an unusual narrative. Well, I confess that this took very little of my imaginative power, since it felt more like a scene from a sitcom set in wildlife. Aside from proving that perspective enriches our experience of life, this little incident also reaffirms the animal kingdom’s unique power to provide amusement.
If you are looking for a little drama to spice up your life, just try looking out the window or watching your pets. It’s remarkable how animal interactions resemble human ones.