Thursday, September 20, 2012

Duck Season

[Editor's note: This is a re-posting of a column I wrote back in 2010, but one that I wanted to revisit and revise before using it to start up my inevitable fall season of getting in your face about stuff.  Enjoy!]

It’s duck season up here in the North (which is to say, the market covered by Fox Sports North) and that means everyone is excited to eat some delicious Teal or Mallard, the former of which I recently found out is very good with a fine Cabernet Sauvignon.  But one of the more satisfying aspects of eating duck, of course is the fact that they have been hunted down and brought to your table, and it is this whole endeavor to which Minnesota grade schoolers pay tribute by playing a game known around here as Duck, Duck, Gray Duck.
                It has recently come to my attention that not every state in the union knows the game as such.  In fact, people in every other state but Minnesota call the exact same game Duck, Duck, Goose, which is completely wrong.  The game has its origins in a very realistic and distinctly Minnesotan philosophy, that we are all Ducks.  We would never single someone out so ostentatiously as to call them a Goose.  Geese and Ducks wouldn’t hang out in the same flock, waiting to be provoked by a mysterious hand from above and then run in a very tight circle to track down the target, the It, before It reaches the point from which the race began.  (“It”, suffice it to say, is also a Duck).  A Goose definitely wouldn’t abide by these strict rules.  But Ducks follow the rules and know when to give up, because they understand that they will not always be the Gray Duck.  They will hopefully be a different kind of Duck, one that does not have to chase It.  We Minnesotans know that sometimes it is simply your day to be the Gray Duck.
                This brings me to the next part of this philosophy.  Though we are all Ducks, we are also all unique.  The tradition of these gamers in our fair state is that it is the responsibility of It to signify to each of the Ducks exactly what kind of Duck they are.  Just because one duck is Gray, doesn’t mean the other Ducks don’t have adjectives.  They all should.  There is the requisite Smelly Duck, Pretty Duck, Ugly Duck and others.  The only reason the Gray Duck is the type of Duck that has to chase is because that is the way it has always been.  It doesn’t mean he or she is any better or worse than the others.  We just need to know that we are being appreciated for our attributes by the It Duck.  And if the It Duck tilts our head back to get a better look at us in order to figure out what kind of Duck we are, so much the better.  We are one community (which is what the circle signifies), but we are also individuals, with names given to us based on the gifts we bring to the table. We watch and wait for the impending race and root for the Gray Duck because one day we may have to be him, and one day he might actually catch It Duck, though the odds are against him.
                Should he catch It Duck, we all rejoice, because there will be a feast of Duck Soup (is Goose Soup even a thing?), which is signified by the defeated Duck having to sit in the middle of the circle and be observed by those who he once shared the ranks of.  This is not cannibalistic or barbaric, but it shows that someday we may have to sacrifice something of ourselves for the good of others.  It is not right that some may have to leave us, but that is the way of things, and we know that in some ways, they are still with us, silently staring back at us from the center of our lives.
                 Does anyone have a good Cabernet to share?