Rick Astlee the One Eyed Duck is, really and truly, living his best life. In many ways he seems worlds happier than before the incident last winter, and if you could spend a few days with him I think you would agree. His limited vision does mean that he tilts and leans hard toward the ground, so as to see where he is going with his one good eye; and this usually means he walks in circles. But more and more, he has been stretching those circles into longer and longer ellipses. He waddles in oblong, not too elegant loops, overlapping them with greater and greater distance every day. It is pretty amazing to watch his slow, steady progress and also watch him regain some independence. Mike Meyers Lemon, his smaller duck companion, the one with the wonky wing feathers, is genuinely concerned for his friend and tries to help. Mike calls rapid fire to Rick, “quack-quack-quack,” and Rick answers languidly, “quaaaaack” and Mike hurries closer, “quack-quack-quack,” like an earnest round of Marco-Polo, Mike stretching his shiny duck neck and waddling search of his circle-walking friend, bit by bit, voices easily distinguishable, until they are safely reunited. This drama happens throughout the day all over the farm, but the sweetest thing is watching it play out at sunset. We noticed that almost every night, if the south coop flock has retired to bed without Rick, the calling and fretting is even easier to hear. The trouble is that often Rick is fast asleep somewhere errant, deaf to Mike’s pleas. So either Handsome or I, accompanied by Klaus, scan the farm with a flashlight until we find Rick curled up beneath a cedar tree or within the hydrangeas, sometimes beneath the deck which is wildly troublesome, and then we carry him back to the coop. As Rick arrives safe for bedtime, Mike always loses his mind like a worried parent whose teenager has missed curfew. It is precious.
Meanwhile, Johnny Cash the lone gander has been heart breakingly attached lately. Attached in the neck-swooning, soft-whine-honking, gentle spirit way that MIA used to have with me. He has attached himself alternately to Chanta, our big gold and white paint horse, and Klaus, the world’s most loving German Shepherd. Johnny Cash is Mr. Lonelyheart when he wanders the farm alone, but when he is with his chosen buddy of the moment he could not be happier. Often we find him waddling after Chanta, Chanta’s thick tail swishing at him contentedly. Or we see the goose and his dog resting in the shade of a pine tree, supervising the chickens at scratch. A few days ago I brought Klaus a bowl of water plus a few golden Oreos to share with his friend, and his friend lunged at me, shooing me away from their bro space. Klaus didn’t seem to notice, which is good. Like, extremely good. I cannot think he would approve of any animal attacking his mama, not even his friends.
Out of the blue a few weeks ago, an old adage blew through my mind and settled with more clarity then ever: “What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.” I suppose that most of my life have assumed it meant something like, what’s fair is fair, or maybe what’s good enough for women is good enough men, and vice versa. Like an obtusely framed anti-sexist thing? What have your believed it to mean?
I asked my husband his take on the expression, and he said, “You can’t have a double standard.” Exactly, right? No double standards.
Here a little extra I am putting behind the expression lately: What benefits one of the pair, benefits the pair itself. As if we are two streams feeding into one river, a thorough mix of waters, and the health and quality of each stream constitutes the health and quality of the river. That’s what I’m thinking.
When we renewed our vows in July, one of the promises I added to our original ones was to remember that my husband is my teammate, not my competition. There’s a lot of private history behind that, and maybe I will share more as we go, but for today’s purposes I am just reflecting on how the better off he is, the better off we are. The happier and healthier I am, the more vibrant our union is.
It’s not earth shattering new wisdom, but it is a timely reminder for me. And since my daily life is so filled with birds and bird behavior, the adage is likely to blow through my mind again and again. I appreciate this nodding wink from the Universe.
What’s good for the goose is good for the gander, because the goose and the gander are one. Their streams have fed willingly into the same river, and that’s very good. That’s really beautiful. It can be powerful.
Thanks for checking in, friends! May you have a buddy as devoted to you as Mike Meyers Lemon is to Rick Astlee, so that on the days your circular wandering leads you far from home at bedtime, that friend calls and calls to you until you are safe again. May you also find an unlikely friend, like our lone gander has found with both a horse and a dog. And if your stream mingles with any other, may all that water be clean and nutritious, with strong currents and sweet flavor.