A cord of three strands

The three ducks from the story at Lake Weeroona, Bendigo.
The three ducks from the story at Lake Weeroona, Bendigo. Photo: Supplied

How three ducks brought back memories of a passage from Scripture.

A couple of years ago while travelling on the mainland, I revisited the Victorian Goldfields centre, Bendigo. We lived there three years, some four decades ago. I never find it any hardship to revisit the lovely city. Our house, a beautiful old colonial built in 1893 and named Liscannor (the original Liscannor is an Irish town in County Clare, adjacent to the sheers Cliffs of Moher), needed a whole lot of loving care. The two of us, not many years remarried, applied ourselves to its refurbishment. Two, as we all know, are more than twice as productive as one, something to which I’ll return shortly.

Our home was literally just around the corner from Lake Weeroona, on the shores of which we spent many a pleasant hour, especially on hot nights with a rug, a picnic tea and a bottle of wine in a cooler pack. We put in long hours at work and at home; this was our reward.

But back to my visit.

While there, I walked around Lake Weeroona on a tranquil Autumn day, enjoying its peace and calm despite sometimes heavy traffic on the Midland Highway that runs along one side of it. One scene caught my attention as I walked the path about half-way up towards the rowing club at the lake’s north end. I watched for perhaps fifteen minutes as three ducks swam towards where I’d stopped, came ashore, preened together, spoke to each other constantly before re-entering the water. They swam close, lined astern as ducks do, with what seemed an almost continuous level of quiet quacking.  It almost appeared they were united by their talk. And this was apparently so.

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As I watched, a couple stopped by me and spoke. They’d noticed my attention drawn to the three water birds and I said yes, how lovely to see what appeared to be such a close relationship. The people lived in nearby Caledonian Street and told me the story of the ducks as they knew it. To the best of their understanding, the white duck is blind and the other two, a pair, took it under the wing, as it were. My friends said they had seen the three together for about three years, that they are never apart and that the white one always follows in the wake of the others.

I thanked them for that, warmed in the thought it is not only the human beast who (sometimes, anyway) provides succour to another in need, it happens in the animal kingdom as well. The episode brought to mind a passage we were taught in Sunday School many a long year ago, verse 4:12 from Ecclesiastes that states,

And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart.

The quote simply means what I alluded to early in the blog: two as a pair are greater in strength (or work capacity) than two individuals, and then with a third strand intertwined, they become unbreakable. (Just imagine for a moment the way in which the three strands of rope are wound together.) There will always be exceptions to every rule, I know, but it happens, happily, in many families, where a couple have strength of relationship that increases even more when the third strand is added, a child or children. In an ideal world, that cord of three strands ought never be broken.

This all came back to me through watching the close harmony – and the strength of bond – between three ducks. If they can manage it then so can we.