A Dusty Nod to the Past

Meet Larry. With two different colored glass eyes, askew on opposite sides of his small head, he stares out at the world from his humble perch. He’s not glamorous, but maintains a sense of dignity.

We first met Larry at an antique store in Anacortes. Lined up on a high shelf with other antiques, it had been years since he’d been looked at, let alone dusted. With a hefty film of grime, obscuring any semblance of color, he appeared gray. My mom saw him and that was it.

You see, Larry is a wooden duck decoy. Handmade, with carving marks noticeable all over his lightweight, buoyant body. His two eyes are not only different colors, they are also different sizes and not quite level. The result is a somewhat sideways glance at anyone looking his way. When we brought him home, a simple soap and water wash revealed a light green beak, somewhat faded, but still distinctive, as well as red-tone wings and slight black and white painted feathers.

As a wooden duck decoy, Larry is an inanimate object that caught our attention from atop his shelf outlook. But he’s more than that. He’s a symbol of my grandfather’s love of duck hunting, an interest that included an array of wooden and plastic decoys that have since been lost. As a vegetarian, I couldn’t imagine duck hunting, but something about decoys speaks to me, especially this one. He’s rustic, worn by time, and not, as I mentioned earlier, glamorous. However, he is a handmade snapshot into something my grandfather enjoyed and a reminder that this one-of-a-kind decoy meant something to someone, and that legacy lives on. His name? A nod to my Grandpa Larry.