How a Family of Ducks Unites Strangers

I take the France Avenue exit off Highway 100 North and turn right, pointing the Honda toward home. Gone are the days of ice and snowy road conditions; now my attention is tuned to the avid bikers and outdoorsy children of summer who might enter my path.

A flock of ducks hops onto the street up ahead. I press the brake pedal, stopping the car for the winged pedestrians. A car coming from the opposite direction rolls to a stop, too. Like me, the other driver, a woman, watches the spontaneous parade, and she and I swap grins as our entertainment waddles by.

The mama duck, strutting with purpose, leads her family across France Avenue. Her small ones have grown, and here they are, medium-sized — a bunch of adolescents, from the looks of it — but still content to follow her. And I think of my own teens, no longer the littles who once clutched my shirt hem as we crossed streets together, still my followers too.

In the middle of the road, the mama duck jumps.

Did a sound startle her? Or does she sense danger, realizing now how close our two cars are to her family? She halts in the center of the street, swivels to face her progeny and hustles them all back the way they came. Her teens — the compliant types — bob along behind her, retracing their steps.

I laugh. The lady in the other car and I exchange looks, and she laughs with me. We’re witnesses to the cutest impromptu show of the summer, and from her expression, she knows it too.

The moment glides by — probably 40 seconds in all — but I flip the events of that feathered crossing around in my brain longer than usual. The sudden beauty and wordless connection with another driver moves me. I replay the scene.

A mama leading her teens to safety.
A stranger enjoying a chuckle with me.
Nature pausing my busy day to delight me.

Sometimes the small things are big.

Photo by Vlad Tchompalov on Unsplash

Tamara Jorell

About Tamara Jorell

Tamara Jorell lives in North Minneapolis and is a freelance grant writer, creative writer, and host mom for Safe Families for Children. Since 2012, she and her family have hosted thirty-two children in crisis. In her weekly blog, she writes about North Minneapolis’ jagged edges, violence, quirkiness, humor, and beauty. She lives with her husband of twenty-eight years, their three daughters, and their beloved pit bull Lala. Subscribe to her blog:, and follow her on Facebook: tamarajorell