It is common to think of the Crocus as the first sign of spring,  Madonna Lily as the symbol of Easter, and Carnation as the flower for Mother's Day.

To me, it is the return of Millie, a brown mother duck that signals a cycle of life, the beginning of warmer season, and a cheerful outlook for the rest of the year.

In the past few years, it's always during the first week of May.  Millie would come back to her old spot a local nursery near where I live, among the spring flowers and bushes. She would lay eggs and start her new family. When I spotted her on May 8th, the babies had just hatched. This year Millie picked a large square stone basin to lay her eggs.  So there she was, with all her babies proudly tugged under her wings. She was taking a nap, and so were her babies, all nine of them.

In a day or two, the babies would come out to sun and get ready for their new lives. The basin, which was used as a flowerpot, was sitting high on a metal shelf, about three feet above the ground. The fluffy yellow ducklings getting chubbier every minute, they were picking and rubbing each other, playing pranks and trying to push somebody out of the tight nest.

It's time!  Millie spreads her wings and signals her babies that it is time to jump out. She flew around her kids, and then landed on the graveled ground to show them how it was done. Her babies were watching and quacking; getting excited, but still afraid.  Suddenly, one bright yellow baby duck jumped in the mid air, and the sunlight caught the tiny body like a little fireball showing the energy of a new life.

One by one, they jumped to the ground safely. With a little swagger, Millie proudly took the lead.  Her nine kids followed in line, walked to the brook nearby for the first dip.  At that moment, I remembered an ancient Chinese poem portraying this beautiful scene:  “In springtime, who else but the ducks, are the first ones to know the water in the brook is warm enough to swim in”.

Mother's Day is traditionally busy for retail businesses. I am always happy and grateful to see dads bring in their kids to choose gifts for their mothers, grandmas and sometimes a special godmother or auntie.

May is also the month filled with many important events such as graduations, communions, confirmations, weddings, and Memorial Day to honor our Veterans. In June, we will welcome Father’s Day.

For each important step of your life, take a moment to think of that special person, who nurtured you, encouraged you, the person who gave you the little push at the crucial moment, and the person who showed you the new horizon. Remember, if you know someone, it might be your neighbor or someone you just met, who is serving or fought for our country, don't hesitate to say thank you.