Hilda Stob Prose
October 31, 1978
We first met Molly during the summer of ’78. She was a lovely Mallard duck, with a family of ten little ones, balls of mottled yellow down, swimming on beautiful Cobb Lake, in front of our cottage. Molly was timid at first, but her little ones were hungry so she permitted them to feed on the stale bread which we crumbled for them.
The next morning they were there again, but there were only eight babies, and the following morning only six babies. These six and Molly were regular visitors all summer and came to expect food from us each day. They nested at night in the uninhabited area across the lake, but each morning they came swimming across the lake, straight as an arrow, indifferent to the boats and fisherman, eager for their meal of cracked corn. They were no longer interested in stale bread as they were now almost as big as Molly.
Molly always remained a bit timid, and was on the alert for danger when feeding on shore. But we knew she trusted us because she would bed her family down on the shore under our willow tree and would take off for about an hour to visit ducks who were living in the channel at the other end of the lake. On flying back to our yard she would give one loud quack before landing, as if to say, “I’m back again, so now you may move about.” Her family remained quiet and motionless all the time while she was gone.
They were now about two months old and as large as Molly, but were still absolutely obedient. Molly now permitted them to come looking for us when we were too slow abut putting out the corn for them. They would come waddling up to the bank chattering as if to remind us that breakfast was overdue. Molly would trail them, always the little lady, never demanding food for herself, always permitting her children to have their fill first.
It was also immensely interesting for us to watch her preparing them for flight. They would walk in the yard flapping their wings and then see how far they could run while flapping their wings. Molly would watch them, yet ever alert for danger. Finally toward the end of the summer she taught them to tread water while flapping their wings. And then one day she led them to the middle of the lake and at a signal from he they all took to the wing. It was so thrilling to watch their maiden flight and see how proud they were of their new freedom. No matter how they scattered during their flying lessons, the following morning, they would cone swimming across the lake with Molly at the head of the little flotilla. They were a source of pleasure to us all summer, and it was with a certain amount of sadness that we realized one day that ;Molly and her family no longer came for their daily visit. But there was contentment also, knowing that they were able to take care of themselves, because it was also time for us to leave the lake, and return to the city. Now we look forward to next summer and wonder whether Molly will bring a new family to share with us.