• Dale Bowman

Length of a mother's love (empirically): Ramble with the Lady

Well, ain't I the stats wonk this morning?

I answered the age-old question of how long is the length of a mother's love.

As Lady and I rambled up to the town pond, a duck with about eight ducklings began doing a wild circle in the north old clay pit and gradually worked away from the ducklings.

It is a classic move by a mother bird that I have seen in many other forms. The old dstraction tactic, usually faking a broken wing imitation, is a classic.

Probably the ones I remember most are related to ruffed grouse. I once froze when a grouse began doing that, just to see if I could find her babies. It so freaked her out that she came running up right to my hiking boots.

Little grouse chicks look like brown cotton balls blowing in the wind.

At any rate, I thought this morning was a perfect setting to see just how far the mother duck, a wood duck I think, would take the misdirection. You know, measure the length of a mother's love.

Well, she circled, flopped, flapped and called all the way to the east bank of the north pit. Meanwhile, I watched the ducklings. Eventually, they made it, swimming in a tight squadron, to the high weeds on the west bank.

I had measured the length of a mother's love: the length of the north pit. (Forgive me fellow travelers in science and stats, but I forget to step off just how wide is the town pond, west to east.)

(Hello, sabermetricians; hello, Bill James.)

Robins everywhere this morning as Lady, our family mutt, and I rambled off. Not sure if the robins feel rain coming and are anticipating worms popping out to eat, but they were everywhere.

Only two adult Canada geese swam around the north old pit. Not sure where the rest of the six or seven goose families were.

A woodpecker once again hammered away on a dead tree over the southwest corner of the south pit by the old boat launch.


The honeysuckle grows so thick on the trail, formerly a side rail, above the south pit that I could hardly walk through. The flowers are past peak, kind of like an aging movie star.

Out of the wilds around the town pond and back on the edge of town, the stark modern lines of a piece of machinery against the background of the grain elevators caught my eye. (Hello, Charles Demuth.)


By the flower shop downtown, three sparrows engaged in a tussle of some sort. Was it love? Was it a fight? Was it both? It reminded my of the old sytle roadhouses in the country or the mountains, known as F&F joints. You can substitute the Fs.

Naturally, at least naturally for me, that took me to The Pretenders version of ``Thin Line between Love and Hate.''

Down the alley behind the bus barn, a free-ranging housecat, one of those slaughtering machines, roamed looking to something to kill.

Back home, the wind gathered strength in portend of something, like a house dog barking at a stranger coming up the front steps.

I enjoy the quietness of my alone time while the family sleeps in on a holiday morning.

2 views0 comments