Throughout history mankind has unfairly perceived ducks as being somewhat inferior to other animals. You won’t find any duck deities, duck monuments, or duck legends. Instead you will find an array of phrases which use the name for this fine bird; and it must be said, mostly in derogative terms.
We have ‘sitting duck’, describing how someone or some thing is an easy target - as opposed to when this super bird is soaring overhead at 50mph, or swimming underwater like a feathered fish.
The term ‘lame duck’ was first coined in the 18th century at the London Stock Exchange, and was used for stockbrokers who fell heavily into dept. It essentially described someone who is unable to keep up with the flock and so is therefore a target for predators.
In cricket, if a batsman is out for a duck they hang their head in shame, for it means they were dismissed from the crease without scoring a single run. But it could be worse, a ’golden duck’ means you got out on the very first ball - ouch!
To ’play ducks and drakes’ means to behave in a reckless manor, and often involves throwing away ones wealth. This old English phrase relates to the pastime of skimming flat stones across the surface of water. It is thought the game was so named as it mimicked the splashing of waterfowl.
To ‘get your ducks in a row’ is to get organised. Its origins are somewhat unclear, but it seems that it either comes from duck hunting, where more than one duck lined up can be killed with a single shot, or (on a more civilised note) describes the way a family of ducks travel all in a line.
We also have ‘knee high to a duck’, which at least is taller than a ‘knee high to a grasshopper’, ‘water off a ducks back’, describing how something is unaffected by an event, ‘took like a duck to water’, suggesting some person or thing in their natural environment, and someone who rarely opens up their wallet could be known to be ‘as tight as a ducks …’ Anyway, we could go on and on but I’m sure you get idea.
Meanwhile as I write this blog it’s just started raining. It’s a cold, wet, and dark moody day, and you could describe the weather as being truly miserable. But it’s days like today where the duck have the last laugh, for this is ‘nice weather for ducks’. They’ll be over at their pond now, having a great time - most likely laughing like they always seem to do.
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With the exception of artists, inventors, and teenagers - we humans are diurnal daytime creatures on the whole, and although it’s one thing to be out and about during the night in a street lit urban environment, it’s a very different scenario if you find yourself in, say… oh, I don’t know, a forest per se. Where, if you’re lucky, you may hear the unmistakable cry or hoot of an Owl: natures very own nocturne, a stark reminder of the unknown peril of night, and a creature that has featured heavily in myth and folklore throughout the ages.