Posted by: Betsy Devany | April 16, 2010

The Ducks of San Diego

San Diego is a beautiful city. And that is where I spent the past week, celebrating a family member’s birthday. The weather was perfect (sunny and not too hot) and the company of people we haven’t seen in a while was even better. We walked and walked and . . . walked. Through the entire San Diego Zoo, and The Wild Animal Park. And to anywhere that had gelato. Or really good coffee. We indulged in handmade crepes. Dinner crepes. Dessert crepes.  And in anything made with mango–an obsession of mine. Connection to the internet was minimal, and there was little time to write.  

When I don’t write at length for a few days, I feel unsettled and starved for creativity. And at times, melancholy. And so I explored another way of expressing my feelings: photography.  While I am a novus, I love the art of taking a picture. Or trying to take a picture. Or taking dozens of pictures, only to delete most of my shots. I am compelled to follow certain subjects, shooting from different angles until it feels right. I write in this same vein. 

Discovering that I’ve taken a memorable photo feels almost the same as when I’ve written twenty first-pages and throw away nineteen. But one page has a sense of wonder to it. It breathes life and offers possibility. I can step back and see something really good. A character I need to follow. A story I need to write.

And so, as with life, and writing, and photography, I remain open to those moments. The ones you don’t expect. The ones you want to be ready for before they pass you by and blow away in the wind. Like a dandelion that’s been kissed by a young child.   

With a camera by my side at all times, I was prepared. My first unexpected moment on Coronado Island was when I opened the door to our first-floor suite the day after we arrived. With plans of hunting down a good cup of coffee, I was  surprised to find company on our door mat: a momma mallard duck with her thirteen adorable babies following her.

I did what my husband fully expected of me.  I dropped my purse, jacket, and knapsack at my feet, well, on top of his feet, and turned on my camera.

To feed my creative needs for the week we were in San Diego, I saw the world through my camera lens. In other words, I followed the ducks. Unless they were following me, which they did on a number of occasions. And while I did my best to keep the seagulls away from her thirteen babies, sadly, by the time we left the Coronado Island, the duckling count was down to nine. I wanted to protect them all, just like I keep a protective wing around my characters, especially when they are developing and not yet ready to be introduced to the world.

As for the two male mallards (the brothers) who followed me around like puppies, I left inspired by their behavior to return to my picture book manuscript about ducks. The piece has been sitting in a drawer for months. I can now look at it with new eyes. For this, I thank the brothers.

And for my readers, I thank you for your patience while I went a month without blogging. It has been a month of doing taxes, working extra hours at the toy store, attending two writing workshops, completing writing deadlines, and reconnecting with family. 






  1. Awww! I have a real soft spot for ducks, because my family raised them when I was little. One of my earliest memories is holding a warm little ball of yellow and black and feeling its heartbeat.
    Thanks for reminding me!
    I’m glad your trip had lots of beautiful things in it, Betsy!

    • What a lucky child you were! Thanks for sharing your story. I, too, have a soft spot for ducks.

  2. I was a lucky child, that’s certain!
    I gave you a fun award today over on my blog. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: