He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust:
his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.
King James Bible Psalm 91. 4
This verse from the Psalms hovered somewhere in my memory. Then I met Daphne who was enjoying the river birds and she found the quotation. An image of ancient provenance. Here on the riverbank it's an image of motherhood.
As the goosander covered her eleven ducklings under her wings I was their shield and buckler too. I stood at a respectful distance from the birds as a woman approached, about to let loose her dogs. So I stepped before the goosander family, smiled at the woman, invited her to share something very special, willing her to hold on to her dogs and retreat. Which soon she did.
When summer rains set in the river rose and flowed fast. I could not find the goosander and her ducklings. I wonder how many of that brood she reared? I saw tiny mallard ducklings scrambling to the safety of the river bank, following their mother. And two being born downstream, alone. Too tiny, too vulnerable to last long.