Learning To Let Go: Lessons from Nature

We lost a special member of our flock today, our beloved duck Dante. Even if you don’t live on a farm or have ducks, I think this post is for anyone that has ever loved and lost a pet. Mary Oliver has written so many beautiful poems about nature and about loss. I wanted to share one of my favorite’s of Oliver’s with you. It helps comfort and give me strength.

I took this photo of Dante and Lucky last week.

IN BLACKWATER WOODS
Look, the trees
are turning
their own bodies
into pillars
of light,
are giving off the rich
fragrance of cinnamon
and fulfillment,
the long tapers
of cattails
are bursting and floating away over
the blue shoulders
of the ponds,
and every pond,
no matter what its
name is, is
nameless now.
Every year
everything
I have ever learned
in my lifetime
leads back to this: the fires
and the black river of loss
whose other side
is salvation,
whose meaning
none of us will ever know.
To live in this world
you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it
against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it
go,
to let it go.
-Mary Oliver

I have toughened up a lot over the past 6 years. Being a farm girl does that to you. You see up-close-and-personal how brutal and unyielding nature can be. However, you also feel profound beauty and see what a mysterious miracle that life is.

I have learned not to name our chickens (I only name the roosters). However, the ducks are different. They have such a presence about them and an important place on our homestead (not just in our hearts) but in their custom made ponds.

I grieve for Dante’s wife, Lucky. Ducks are social creatures and they need companions. While she still has the hens, roos, and Penelope the turkey. She needs a swimming partner. Her and Dante were bonded and they were love birds.

Lucky was rescued by our friend Theresa’s daughter Hunter. After living in Hunter’s dorm room for a couple of weeks we were asked if we could take Lucky the duckling in. We had just gotten three baby ducks so it was the perfect time. One duckling didn’t make it. However, Lucky, Dante, and Beatrice were the three amigos until Beatrice got broody and was taken by a predator when she was guarding her clutch of eggs.

So for 4 years Lucky and Dante have been waddling, swimming, foraging, and sharing their feathery lives together. They have been my constant coffee companions each warm summer morning – as I sit by the pond. Now is the time to say goodbye to Dante. I am thankful for my husband’s searching for an answer today – I knew something was wrong in my gut yesterday at work. When I came home and found Lucky wandering around alone and crying out – I knew that something bad had happened. John’s search mission answered my question. It appears as if Dante’s life was taken by a bird of prey.

I am thankful that it’s not easy to let go of Dante. It tells me that my heart is still tender. That I have an eternal softness for wild and gentle creatures. I thank him for teaching me this lesson.

John, once again, came to my rescue and came home with a box of 3 ducklings. I was making dinner and he came up behind me and held up a box. I could hear the tiny chirps and I burst into tears. Fingers crossed that once they are big enough that they imprint on Lucky and that she will accept them as suitable companions.

We continue to celebrate the circle of life and give thanks to the lessons our farm, and our sweet creatures, guides us in discovering. 💚

Our late Ollie was such a gentle sweetheart and he loved the duck. Look at how little Avalon and Lukas were as well.
One of these cuties is Dante. The other one was Beatrice. One of the ducklings did not make it.

We will never forget your Dante. ❤
One of our new ducklings. ❤
Lukas has grown up so much, he no longer gives a silly, toothless smile for photos. Now that he’s a pre-teen, I have to beg him to smile. 😉
Introducing Apollo to our new feathered friends.
K9 Nitro comes from a line of great hunting labs, however, he’s as gentle as can be with our flock.
I love this little one’s boldness. ❤️

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