In January, I published an article in which I declared my anticipation and admiration for Spring, while doubtless clogging my keyboard with gingerbread crumb. And I am delighted to say that my local and beloved Wanstead Park has alerted to me that the wait is over.


This photograph is one taken by me this month of a mallard couple overlooking Heronry Pond – one of the picturesque ponds in the park – which is now a live stadium hosting the annual mating game of the mallards, which I always take to indicate the arrival of Spring. These particular two mallards appear quite content with each other, which, judging by the scene unfolding before them on the pond, was quite a rare circumstance.


For on the pond there was a scattered mass of male mallards energetically swimming and flying seemingly aimlessly around, capriciously flapping and displaying the breadth of their feathered wings, all with the goal of attracting one of the females – of which there always appear to me to be fewer – at the front of their bottle-green heads. They approached the females gaudily, often fighting another of their number off of themselves, constantly and tirelessly, even when the females appeared certainly to me to be unimpressed and even indignant.


While it would be extremely unadvisable to take after the example of the male mallards in a romantic context, I do think that we have a lot to learn from their unperturbable industriousness in fighting for what they want. We all find ourselves considering backing down from the things we desire, whether they are a job, a set of results or a healthier lifestyle, but the mallards should teach us that we give in too easily and forget our goals.


If you, as Spring brings out its new beginnings, find that you are longing for something in particular this year, I would encourage you to take a leaf from the mallards in Wanstead Park – though, as I mentioned, not for romantic purposes – and even if you are enviously content with your current situation, I would still recommend paying them a visit, as soon enough the delight of the ducklings parading around the ponds will have us forget the chaos of the mating game.


Ted Howden Chalmers