Spring has sprung but this year there are no Mr. Ducks chasing Mrs. Ducks in the cloister or even sitting on the rooftop as last year. There has been a bird flu going around in Belgium and our ducks have caught it so there simply are no ducks! There are easily 70% fewer ducks than last year. None are nesting in the back canals of the monastery secluded from the tourists. I have seen one pair and I hope somewhere there is a nest. Last year there were easily 10 to 20 pairs and lots of little duckies; they would sun on the bank and in the grasses and leap into the canal as I approached on my morning round with my coffee. I am really not so terrifying but they do not know that.
The Brugse swans have also been safely collected and hidden away in some protected spot to avoid the bird flu. Fortunately, the swans have recently returned to the canals before the height of the tourist season. Their lovely regal selves floating along the canals are beautiful. The tourists who came when the canals were only water did not know what they were missing; a postcard of other times, other years would have to do! I had gotten used to the canals without them but I sure did miss them. (The sister who does the daily run to the bakery for our fresh bread confessed she missed them also!) Spring has also brought the return of the tortoise who lives in our cloister; he can be seen sunning himself in the afternoon sunshine. The wisteria out my cloister window blossoms bigger every day. The human creature in all of this lovely God-created nature sits by her window and peacefully meditates and does her lace amongst the loveliness of God’s creation.