Willie Nod and the Duck

i wrote at the very first of 1981 just before i flew to Honolulu with Captain Bruce Brunn, USMC, both staff members of Commander, Amphibious Group Five to plan the Hawaii exercises with the composite Marine Air Group and the Marine Landing Force who would board our ships in Pearl Harbor, and after the exercises proceed to the Western Pacific.

It was the year i spent ten months either going to and from or out there, way out there. i loved it, but as i was leaving i was sad about leaving my daughter Blythe and wrote this for her.

Ducks seem to drift in and out of my life. When JD Waits and i were writing our still unpublished leadership book, The Pretty Good Management Book, JD came up with the title of one chapter, “Never Take a Duck to a Cockfight Expecting to Win.” Every time i read “duck,” i think about Willie Nod or JD’s duck.

Willie Nod and the Duck

Willie Nod and this duck got together.
It was a most improbable place where they met:
No pond of water was within miles.
They quacked together for a while
(Willie had learned quacking
On a farm several years before).
They discovered, Willie and the duck,
They had a lot in common.
Willie had lost
All of his other animal friends
Because he moved around so much.
The duck couldn’t tell seasons very well;
All the other ducks in his flock
Had flown off and left him
One spring day.
The duck didn’t mind moving either.
So Willie Nod and this duck got together,
Which is right back where we started.

They were walking down this long flat road
In New Mexico in the summer.
The duck still couldn’t tell seasons.
Willie Nod spoke to his friend,
Quacking of course,
“Duck, do all the things in the world
Seem silly to you?”
Duck replied,
“A little sad perhaps,
“And always funny,
“But never silly.”
In spite of not being able to tell seasons,
He was a wise duck.
Willie Nod and this duck
Were together for a long time
Although the duck couldn’t tell
That it was a long time
For ducks tell time
By the passing of the seasons,
And now we all know
This duck’s problem in that area.
Then one day in autumn,
The duck quacked to Willie Nod,
In his own peculiar way of quacking,
“I’m feeling a chill.
“I do believe my season-telling is coming back.
“I think I’ll fly north.”
Some ducks can never get it completely right.

Willie Nod tried to convince the duck
He still didn’t have season-telling quite right yet,
He should wait
A couple of more seasons.
Duck quacked, wisely again,
“You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.
“It may not be right for everyone else,
“But you know when it’s right for you,
“And if you don’t do it then,
“You may never get the chance again.”
With that, the duck took wing,
Flying north on that cold fall day.
Willie remembered the duck’s words
As he watched his flight for the last time:
“A little sad perhaps,
“And always funny,
“But never silly.”


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