About 10 years ago, we found Ducky sitting on a picnic table in a campground in southern Colorado. I put him on the dashboard of the truck, where he has ridden for years.
In 2015, at the last minute before leaving on a trip to Peru, I grabbed Ducky from the dash. Anytime he came out, he brought smiles to faces. I remember passing through security in a small airport, seeing bored guards light up and grin at each other as Ducky came through the scanner.
It was only natural that Ducky traveled with us to Iceland. For no good reason, he remained hidden much of the trip. However, the day I rode shotgun beside our guide and van driver, Daniel, Ducky took his place on the dash for the next few days.
Somehow, I forgot him. Somehow, no one noticed him on the dash. That is until Daniel was returning the van. I wish I had jumped in my rental car and braved the trip to Reykjavik to rescue Ducky, but I did not. I accepted too easily that he would be fine in Iceland, his ultimate migration. Sorry, old friend.
We found Ducky abandoned on a picnic table in a campground near Alamosa, Colorado. That was the trip that was nearly ruined by millions of caterpillars falling from the aspens they were denuding. The same trip we saw hundreds of unrelated swallowtails wallowing in mud along the road.
Ducky was just sitting there. That’s his thing. You know his kind well. Perhaps, New Mexicans feel a stronger connection to his kind thanks to Bosque del Apache, or, more likely, the Deming Duck Race.
Since he joined the pack, Ducky has ridden on the dash of our truck. He accompanies us on the mundane daily trips and the longer escapes we live for. This is why I impulsively grabbed him to take to Peru.
I admit that I considered Ducky might fill the roll of the sock monkey and other peripatetic icons dotting photos on the Web. He might add some whimsy, I hoped. Early on, I was very self-conscious about pulling him out and posing him. I don’t mind being affected or eccentric, but I’m not that into him at home. He’s just along for the ride. By putting him in the frame, I brought him into our group, most of whom looked at me indulgently, at first.
These are the best photos of Ducky in Peru, from departure to return. I couldn’t photograph my favorite moment involving Ducky. As we passed through airport security in Cusco, I pulled Ducky out of my pocket at the last moment and put him on top of a pile of other items. I loved seeing the faces of the security personnel soften as they looked from Ducky to each other and smiled. The world craves more whimsy.
Ducky on his way to Peru.
The joy of birding.
On the Madre de Dios river, Manu, Peru.
Cloudburst and sunny smile. I was delighted when Melissa Wilson reached for Ducky. Seize the whimsy! The rain ruined one of our best birding opportunities, yet gave me more joy than I can say.