Charles A. Peterson
This morning as I was gathering my thoughts, I checked out my late brother Doug’s Mill Pond blog. The Mill Pond had been an integral part of his life for a long time. He typically made passes each day, took some pictures, talked to those he passed, named and developed relationships with a few critters, passed out some duck food, took a deep breath and relaxed. Doug had an irregular sleeping pattern so his Mill Pond visits could be at any random time of day or night. He returned to his apartment and at some point displayed his new pictures with some text on his Mill Pond blog. I have been for several years making passes through his blog. His pictures and text are beautiful creations.
His world and mine were about 900 miles apart and different lifestyles. I am a retired now widowed engineer with two daughters and two granddaughters and he was a creative driven artist, graphic designer, web designer, photographer and nature loving man unto himself. He was driven by his passion and managed to get just along financial. I am much more pragmatic and driven much more at the other end of the spectrum by finding a balance for living between truly following my dreams and financial security. The point being that we are just very different people. I was also four years older than Doug. We were close in the early years but in some ways were more like only children because of our age differences. We didn’t share friends and were mostly in different schools. Doug was in forth grad when I went off to high school and I was off to college when he started high school. I moved from Highland Park in the Detroit Area after college graduation to Southern Indiana and we were separated by four hundred miles. I was raising a family and he was starting up in his art world.
He had been in Brighton, Michigan for over forty years developing his world. After long after Mom and Dad died, I changed jobs and moved to NW Arkansas from Southern Indiana and increased our separation distance from 400 to 900 miles making get to gathers more difficult. After his death and being his surviving heir I came to realize that I really didn’t know much about his close relationships, friends, and life style.
Returning to Brighton, re-meeting Marilyn, meeting Don, Tom, Terry, Alisha, and Mary and Bob across the hall, as well as a few others has been a very positive experience. They have been so helpful in sorting out his stuff and filling in some of the blanks, as well as toting boxes down the stairs helping clean up the apartment.
His blog is still a huge unknown to me. It is beautifully done, but I have no understanding of the expanse. Don has access to it and we decided to keep it going until at least the end of the year, when the address will need to be renewed or simply disappear. Disappearing is not something I would like to happen, but I don’t know of anyone with the passion and close to Doug’s skill and creativity to continue with his love. I was surprised to recently discover his local nickname. I just love him as being referred to as “The Duckman”.
Dad would also love that nickname. When Ron my much older brother, Doug and I were young, Dad would take us for nature walks. Locally, Palmer Park was about four blocks from home with a duck pond and a small pavilion. The pond had a couple of islands and a flock of about twenty resident ducks. I believe some of the park work was done by the WPA during the depression. The pavilion had a small refreshment stand that served cokes, crackers, candy bars, cheese tidbits, and I don’t remember the others. We would walk over to the park, Dad would buy a package of cheese tidbits, and we would feed the ducks. It was a wonderful break in the day. Sometimes we would stop at a local soda fountain on the return walk, Dad would have a coke and Doug and I would split a coke with two straws. It was not unusual for Dad to stop and talk to anyone on the street. He was the local stereotypical small town doctor that knew most of the community. These park trips along with many other nature trips were an important part of our childhood.
So I am not surprised that Doug had become known as the “Duckman”. I have had similar trips with my daughters and granddaughters, but never into the depth of nature study that Dad and Doug shared.
What got me started on this train of thought this morning was a submission to Doug’s blog by a C.L. Seering entitled “Quiet Escape” Posted on July 2, 2016. It is a wonderful piece and totally consistent with the brother I loved.