One of the family of mallards that moved into the stream in our front yard regards me as I arrive home Tuesday. The duck used to run when I approached. Now there is a mixture of wariness and benign acceptance of another intrusion from the human who lives up the hill.

The mallards are just part of the menagerie of animals that call our home theirs. A family of deer live in the woods behind the house and come out each morning and at dusk to graze in our front yard. A screech owl occupies a tree just outside the second-floor of the den, along with what Amy calls a “demented squirrel” and a confused woodpecker who keeps confusing Masonite with the good stuff. A raccoon drops by occasionally to see if we might leave a trashcan outside (we don’t) and a hawk swoops down to feed once a day.

On some days we sit on the front porch and watch the deer graze or the mallards take their string of ducklings on a walk along the stream we now call Mallard Creek.

They no longer run when we walk out the door or arrive home while they are feeding. Life between these occupants of the land and the human intruders exists in a fragile peace bonded by a growing knowledge among all that none of us poses a threat to the other. As understanding increases, fear subsides, proving once again that there is much we can learn from nature.