Lockdown in Boston: sheltering for John Harvard and the Commons ducks

April 21, 2020 • 2:30 pm

Even before I became smitten by mallards, my two favorite children’s books were Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey (1941), and Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White (1952). (Curiously, both are about animals with almost nothing about humans.)

On the Boston Commons in Massachusetts sits a beloved bronze statue illustrating McCloskey’s book. It shows Mrs. Mallard (yes, that’s her name) and her eight ducklings—coincidentally, the size of Honey’s last brood. I photographed the statue in June, 2016, a year before I even met Honey and the Botany Pond ducklings. Isn’t it a lovely piece of sculpture?

Until I got word from Bruce Lyon today, I didn’t realize that people actually dressed up the ducks. (You can find lots of costumes on Google). And right now, Mrs. Mallard and her brood are not only arrayed in Irish Green, having their own St. Patrick’s Day Parade (the real one was canceled in Boston this year), but are also sporting face masks in recognition of the pandemic.

From Boston.com:

Beverly Scott spotted the duckling statues during a run on St. Patrick’s Day. –Courtesy of Beverly Scott

From Getty Images:

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS – MARCH 25: A view of the Make Way for Ducklings statue wearing crafted face masks on March 25, 2020 in Boston, Massachusetts. A “stay at home” order was put into effect by Governor Charlie Baker in an attempt to slow the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Like good virus-fighters should, they also change their masks, as in this video:

And the other day I learned that an equally famous statue, that of John Harvard in Harvard Yard, has also been adorned with a surgical mask. (That statue is constantly being dressed up one way or another.)

From the New York Post (AP photo)

7 thoughts on “Lockdown in Boston: sheltering for John Harvard and the Commons ducks

  1. Have you ever visited the Peabody Hotel in Memphis? They have resident ducks that use a fountain in the lobby and parade in and out at regular times. You would like it.

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