Ducks and Dilemmas aka Lessons from the Waterbirds of the Bay of Chaleur, New Brunswick, Canada

            “Put the need for certainty aside. Focus on riding the best wave you can today. Don’t wait for the tide to be perfect tomorrow.”—as seen on

          “I intend to not allow the waves of change to knock me off my feet, but instead, learn how to ride them.”—as seen on

We arrived to bracing winds with gray clouds so low and heavy, it appeared as if the sky would drop its burdens at any moment. The water in the Bay of Chaleur was sliced with angry white caps rapidly forcing their way to the shore. While this was our third time to visit the province of New Brunswick in Canada, we had never before witnessed rough bay waters as the weather on past visits was typically mild, warm, and sunny with calm, serene waters.

Nonetheless, as I continued to take in the unfolding scenery currently surrounding me, I noticed a family of ducks tranquilly navigating through the turbulent waves.   There appeared to be Mama duck in the front with several ducklings in tow. In fact, upon closer inspection, there were several types of waterfowl somehow remaining afloat on the enraged, swelling waters. How was this possible? They were clearly not in distress, despite the whipping winds tossing the waves about; rather, they seemed to glide over each growing surge with grace and ease. This image became imprinted upon my mind

Sunrise the following morning found the waters somewhat calmer, but still a bit choppy as rain was now a promise felt in the moist, heavy air. Looking once again towards the bay, there was the familiar duck family and numerous other waterfowl calmly rising and sinking with each lift of waves. Sometimes, they would dive below the water obtaining hidden fodder; but then, emerge with poise and dignity again and again. Even after the rains, heavy and cold, began to empty from the bloated, distressed clouds, the duck family managed to move up and down the shoreline feeding itself as if it were another playful day in the sun. Here were the whisperings of a lesson in which I was in need.

Throughout the rest of my stay in Petit Rocher, New Brunswick, Canada, nestled along the shore of the Bay of Chaleur; I would frequently and curiously observe the bay’s waterfowl, with a particular fondness for the duck family living near the summer cottage in which we were vacationing. Regardless of the weather, cool or hot; rainy or dry; blustery or calm; cloudy or sunny; that duck family never failed to lightheartedly swim to and fro as they dipped and darted for their daily diet. They seemed to possess great faith that all their needs would be provided by staying the course, no matter the current emotion of the atmosphere surrounding them. Oh, to be like that duck family!

The Bay of Chaleur, named by Jacques Cartier in 1534, translates into English as “bay of warmth” or “bay of torrid weather.” (Cartier is said to have arrived during a July heat wave.)   The waters of the bay during the summer months, indeed well-known by tourists and locals, are said to be some of the warmest saltwater north of the state of Virginia due to the warm ocean current that enters the bay from the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Furthermore, numerous freshwater river tributaries also flow into the bay creating a unique fishery. However, due to the bay’s shape, as well as the precipitous, red, rocky cliff line of the northern shore where we were staying, many Petit Rocher residents warned of hazardous wind conditions that sometimes develop, quickly creating large areas of treacherous waters. Thus, the abundant waterfowl, most likely attracted by the ample supply of food, must adapt and remain flexible to the ever-shifting water conditions.

I wish to navigate life more like that duck family and other waterfowl I watched on the Bay of Chaleur. Feeling pain? Breath, be curious, and ride it out. Feeling frustrated, hurt, confused, or uncertain? Dip into the warm waters of faith, and trust that all will be provided. Feeling sad, angry, or lost in a sea of changing, turbulent waters? Relax into, rather than resist, life’s current—the ducks don’t always control where they are going, but they still manage to remain afloat and are returned, in due time, back to their home estuary.


In life, at least for me, it is so easy to feel overwhelmed by change, worry, and/or struggles. However, it is important to realize that feelings are often created, or at the very least increased (or even decreased) by emotions. Our emotions are like the weather of the Bay of Chaleur—they can quickly change. And while the physical shoreline is certainly altered from season to season by the weather, just as emotions sometimes can alter our constitution; the basic make-up of the bay–rocky cliffs, river estuaries, warm ocean current, and abundant wildlife–remain the same.

Change, pain, struggles, even emotions come and go like the wind blowing the waves on the Bay of Chaleur. However, just as the Gulf of St. Lawrence continually sends an undercurrent of warm waters to the bay, so too is there a Divine source flowing to, through, and around us. The lesson of the Bay of Chaleur’s ducks and waterfowl for me to share, and (hopefully) put into practice, is to let go of the attachment to struggle, pain, change, and so forth; and, relax into the warmth and love of our God. Those ducks, I observed, were always fed, never lost, and yet did not resist the waves of change—rugged or placid—they remained firmly in the water, but flexible in their course, trusting in their source. So too, must we remain firm in our faith, but flexible in life path, and trust our heavenly source to provide all we need.




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