Valentine’s Day Gifts: Love Is in the Air

Last year, I bought a wooden card with a colourful seahorse on it and sent it to my husband’s work address. It collected some curious staff members eager to learn who would sent so bluntly a Valentine’s card to a married man. His wife (of course!) although that turned out to be an anti-climax for some but warmed my husband’s heart. He returned home that day with red roses. The card said: ‘You are MY seahorse’ and because that cute sea creature has zero resemblance with my husband, it made me laugh. However, thinking a bit deeper, male seahorses are terrific fathers. Male seahorses are equipped with pouches; when mating, female seahorses deposit up to 1,500 eggs in male’s pouches. A male seahorse carries her eggs for 9 to 45 days until the baby seahorses emerge fully developed, but very small. Learning about this devoted fatherly fact, it reminded me how, when I was a new mom, my back was often burning with pains by carrying my toddler daughter and how my husband carried her on his shoulders, back, and front in a baby carrier. So, after all, he is my seahorse.

I like to point out Mandarin Ducks art cards or a Mandarin embroidery hoop (there is only one available) as perfect Valentine’s gifts. In Asia mandarin ducks are associated with love. Having a mandarin print in your home supposes to attract love. This is handy information for some of us looking forward to Valentine’s Day. Maybe it isn’t a myth at all.

In traditional Chinese culture, mandarin ducks are believed to be lifelong couples, unlike other species of ducks. Hence, they are regarded as a symbol of love, affection and fidelity. Receiving a Mandarin Duck card is a gift experience. Its inlay is full colour. There is a full colour name card of me with two couples of Mandarin Ducks. Plus a seal sticker and a vintage post stamp. The cards arrives in a plastic cellophane or fully addressed if commissioned. Mandarin duck cards help gift-givers to express themselves through a lovely and colourful designs of two ducks that are cosily resting together.

Paula

My booklet has one chapter with illustrations on a Mandarin duck couple too. It is here.

Cards at Etsy.

Embroidery Mandarin Duck at Etsy.

 

Mandarin & Wood Ducks Cards

 

Mandarin and Wood ducks nest in tree cavities. The female doesn’t feed her ducklings because that is too much work compared to having a nest on water level between reeds. There is another bird that doesn’t feed its young. Lapwings don’t feed their chicks but for other reasons. Lapwing chicks are born on a field that lies fallow, which means they are very vulnerable to predators. Parent lapwings use all their energy to guide and defend their chicks. Feeding would lead predators directly to the cute fluff balls.
There is another difference between lapwings and mandarin and wood ducks, apart from lapwings being meadow birds and the other two are waterfowl. Lapwings both take care for raising their young in a coordinated manner. When danger is detected one of the parents will call out orders (mainly ‘For the love of life, freeze and remain still!’) while the other parent will cleverly distract or lead the predator away from the chicks.
The male mandarin and wood duck, both being such handsome drakes, can’t do that, they wisely stay away from the mums and their ducklings. Should the extraordinary colourful daddy of the family take part in feeding the ducklings, he would draw too much attention to his reproduced and fluffy DNA. For a female mandarin duck to be married (yes, for life) to such handsome fellow comes with a price.
Paula Kuitenbrouwer
Artist & Author

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img_4951I have made a few Mandarin and Wood Duck cards, with a full colour inlay. They come in protective cellophane and a seal sticker. There are at my Etsy, but you can contact me too via the contact form. (scroll down).