While walking along the flooded shores of the Columbia River, I was amazed to recognize a black swan floating in the backwaters, herding a group of Mallard ducklings along the shore. Not indigenous to this part of the world and a long way from Australia, where they are native, I can only guess she is an escapee from the zoo or a private home. Alone, with no other swan around, she seems to have adopted this brood and watched over them very carefully, as any proud mother would do. She made quite the hiss if you got to close to the ducklings, but willingly came out of the water with them to snack on the veggies I offered them. It seems we all need our family. Whether related to us or just gathered together in our hearts, family makes life worth living.