If I were a duck, I’d be a very healthy duck

In my constant struggle to keep my weight down, I get a little jealous of my friends who can eat anything and stay skinny. But now I’m jealous of ducks, too, because getting fat is actually a good thing for them.

The Ducks Unlimited newsletter arrived in my email inbox the other day, and there was a story about waterfowl in it that made me wish, at least for a moment, that I were I duck.

The story was written by a couple of biologists who noted that ducks actually need to gain weight going into the winter. They need that extra fat both to keep themselves warm and also to provide some stored energy for the times when they can’t find what they need, foodwise, in the frozen environments they call home.

I read that story right after I had finished pounding out four miles on the treadmill and sitting down to a lunch of celery sticks and tasteless yogurt. Blech. Here I was, starving and torturing myself to shave off a half a pound a week, and the ducks outside my window were gorging themselves on anything they could pack into their beaks.

Granted, the wind was also howling at about 50 miles an hour, and as I looked out the window, I could see a couple of mallards trying desperately to fly straight into the teeth of that wind to get to the pond in the distance. And this time of year, somebody like me could very easily be waiting in the reeds at that pond with a shotgun, ready to blast one of those hard-working quackers right out of the sky. Even if they did make it safely to the pond, there was a good chance the water would be iced over, and they’d have to settle for picking at the leftovers on the bank, rather than feasting on the tastier morsels below the surface. Then there’s the water itself, if it wasn’t frozen over. It couldn’t be more than about 32 and a half degrees, so that would make for a rather chilly lunch.

I suppose I’ll quit wishing I were a duck. It’s better to be on the predator end of the food chain, even if we have to watch what we eat and go to the gym constantly.