Oh I am so excited to find this “challenge”! BIRDS!!! One of my favorite topics!
And just yesterday, I found some old photographs (remember the paper kind?) that took me way back to my very first pet, Fluffy, the House Duck. I wrote out the story of Fluffy when I was about 10 years old and won an elementary school creative writing contest. I was so embarrassed (and proud!)
But for this week’s challenge, here are a variety of more recent photos. To me it’s no surprise I have so many pictures as ducks and geese are favorites of mine, given my early water fowl imprinting with Fluffy and all. (Just don’t tell my Crows and Hummers, as they get so jealous…)
First, even though I live in a very country-ish suburban neighborhood, a duck sighting here is unheard of. But this one year (2002), for some reason, I had a visitation.
Then, on a trip to the Deep South a couple of years ago, at the New Orleans airport, I was visited again!
Next, very recently, this guy just dropped by to say hello. He spent the afternoon hanging out in my side yard. He seemed quite tame and very amenable to a photography session. His colors were so beautiful and I kept imagining that I was seeing a flash of bright blue along his side…
Turns out a neighbor on the next street over has a large pond on their property and these ducks return to every year. That probably explains the 2002 visit also.
And not to neglect geese…on a regular trail we travel several times a year, from home to the San Juan Islands, if we are lucky, we see this! These are shots taken in the not-yet-blooming Tulip fields by La Conner, Washington, a favorite stopping place for migrating Canadian Snow Geese. The pictures are not great but you get the idea.
I just wish I could share the sound with you. It’s like nothing else. When these geese are having lunch, it kind of sounds like an audience sitting in a Concert Hall, right before the show begins…low conversations, muffled chattering.
Then when they take flight, BOOM, it’s like the explosive standing ovation, crowd clapping and cheering, when Bonnie Raitt finally walks out on the stage!!
All in all, Ducks and Geese figure bigly in my life!
Thanks for a wonderful challenge!
Now off to play a favorite childhood game…Wonder if we can do it and stayed Socially Distanced??
And brings with it a surprise guest under the bird feeder…
And still another absolutely lovely sentiment crosses my path…..
“Lockdown” – March 13, 2020
Fr. Richard Hendrick, OFM
(The Franciscan Order)
Yes there is fear.
Yes there is isolation.
Yes there is panic buying.
Yes there is sickness.
Yes there is even death.
They say that in Wuhan after so many years of noise
You can hear the birds again.
They say that after just a few weeks of quiet
The sky is no longer thick with fumes
But blue and grey and clear.
They say that in the streets of Assisi
People are singing to each other
across the empty squares,
keeping their windows open
so that those who are alone
may hear the sounds of family around them.
They say that a hotel in the West of Ireland
Is offering free meals and delivery to the housebound.
Today a young woman I know
is busy spreading fliers with her number
through the neighbourhood
So that the elders may have someone to call on.
Today Churches, Synagogues, Mosques and Temples
are preparing to welcome
and shelter the homeless, the sick, the weary
All over the world people are slowing down and reflecting
All over the world people are looking at their neighbours in a new way
All over the world people are waking up to a new reality
To how big we really are.
To how little control we really have.
To what really matters.
So we pray and we remember that
Yes there is fear.
But there does not have to be hate.
Yes there is isolation.
But there does not have to be loneliness.
Yes there is panic buying.
But there does not have to be meanness.
Yes there is sickness.
But there does not have to be disease of the soul
Yes there is even death.
But there can always be a rebirth of love.
Wake to the choices you make as to how to live now.
Listen, behind the factory noises of your panic
The birds are singing again
The sky is clearing,
Spring is coming,
And we are always encompassed by Love.
Open the windows of your soul
And though you may not be able
to touch across the empty square,
On a trip to Paradise (which is what we call my sister’s home on San Juan Island), I had a close encounter with some actual Ducks in a Row.
There was just a little confusion though.
(Never wished more for a good telephoto lens, but I hope you get the idea. I took these from the upstairs bathroom window!!)
The pond in Paradise is beautiful and a source of entertainment all year round. Right now, there is not a lot of bird activity but the other night, out on the lawn, we had a campfire, and were serenaded by an orchestra of frogs!!
Last Summer when we were there house-sitting, I got to witness one of those delightful mysteries of Nature.
Here it is in photos. Please forgive the quality, but try to enjoy the story.
It’s a big pond so lots of room for more than one type of waterfowl.
Here are two different duck-Mama’s, each with three ducklings.
Enter mysterious confusion.
I love this one. You can see the two baby siblings of the first born “odd duck” up above on the log with its adopted family.
Anyway, I guess these Mama’s cooperated in raising their ducklings…kind of a Blended Duck Family.
But they each got them all in a row at one time or another.
OK, hit another writing snag and am using this great challenge to loosen up the writing muscles. Thank you Cee.
The questions (and my answers) this week on Cee’s “Share Your World” challenge are as follows.
Was school easy or difficult for you? How so?
Really difficult, for so many reasons…mostly an undiagnosed learning disability, I suppose, but a lot of mixed messages. In the 4th grade, I wrote the story of my pet duck (Fluffy). My teacher told me I was failing the 4th grade (how can that even happen?) and that my writing was stupid. (She should have failed the 4th grade.) But the principal, who read my story, gave me a “Writing Award” and posted my story in the class case outside his office for the rest of the year.
See question number One. Of course, I love ducks. It has grown to all birds now. But I really can’t think of an animal I don’t like. Maybe not all of them up close and personal, but I love learning about animals. Do you know much about Lemurs in Madagascar? Fascinating!
What is your favorite large city you have been to? What is the one thing you remember most?
Well, I’m torn between San Diego and Seattle, both cities I have lived in. I guess what strikes me the most is the similarity between the surrounding areas of each. Though there is a major discrepancy in weather, as well as flora and fauna, the topography is so much alike. Desert nearby, as well Visible mountains. And water. It’s everywhere in both cities. Bays, inlets, streams and rivers, islands that require boats or ferries to access, and yacht harbors!! So many yacht harbors.
I can’t actually remember if the seabird above is from San Diego or Seattle…
What inspired you or what did you appreciate this past week? Feel free to use a quote, a photo, a story, or even a combination.
Sreejit Poole’s Dungeon Prompt. The topic is so fascinating and his description, very compelling. He calls it Rage against the Machine. I sat down immediately to write out my response. I’m not done yet (see above comment re:hitting writing snag) but have enjoyed being so immersed in the way I am answering his challenge. Very inspirational, and a great balancing exercise, for me, about Dark vs Light. How to write about the dark without going dark myself….
Here’s the story I referred to in my comment to Lisa. A lot of it is the version I wrote when I was 9 or 10 years old, and then I added to it (mostly the sarcasm) at about 15 years old.
But, as Paul Harvey used to say, “And now, the rest of the story.”
Fluffy, the House Duck
Having a duck for a pet was NOT my idea in the first place. I was much more of a Lassie or a Rin Tin Tin gal. I couldn’t help it that they had a prize drawing the Saturday afternoon before Easter when we were just innocently attending the matinee showing of Pinocchio at the Roxy Theater. I didn’t ask for my very own ticket stub to have the triumphant number, thus making me a winner of something for the first time, ever, in my whole life. I never even intended to be a contestant. I was only seven.
It also wasn’t my fault that I had to carry that squirmy baby duck in one hand and hold onto my squirmy 4-year-old sister with my other. So, who could blame me for dropping that duckling, a time or two, on the way home? It was 10 blocks to walk after all.
And since I was a first time duck owner, how was I to know that baby duck’s wings were not supposed to stick up in the air, all crooked like this duck’s did; well, after those 3 or 4 drops anyway.
Oh, I guess it was cute enough, all soft and fluffy and yellow, but I had wanted a dog, a BIG dog, my whole entire life. But No, I get a duck, with funny broken wings that never did lie flat against its body like they were supposed to. And it never did fly. It mostly just flapped.
Not wanting to invest much of my creative energy in this creature, I just started calling it Fluffy…because it was.
I was the oldest kid which, in our family gave me tons of extra jobs to do, but it also gave me the right to have my very own room. So, if I was going to have to SHARE my room now with a duck, it better not poop and pee everywhere. How was I supposed to know that you couldn’t housebreak a duck? I just did it. It took a few weeks but after it learned, it only pooped in a cardboard box. The whereabouts of the peeing I am less sure.
I’m sure now that my folks thought this duck was a “short timer” because of the broken wings and all. But, it was still in my room, months later, when it had lost all that yellow fuzz and become this pretty brown and iridescent colored animal whose cute little squeak had disappeared and been replaced with a VERY LOUD quack. It was that quack that must have inspired my Dad to get busy out there in our back yard, creating a duck paradise.
One Sunday morning when I got up, he asked me to come out into the yard. Now see if you can picture this. It was a huge back yard with the requisite San Diego banana “trees” and citrus trees (lemons so sweet you could peel and eat them like oranges). We also had a swing set, a home made gazebo and two beautiful, flowering Oleander trees, the dangers of which, we had already been taught; (“It’s OK to smell the blossoms, but if the trees are ever on fire, do NOT breathe the smoke.”) From the edge of the cement patio, where the garden hose could easily reach, my Dad had dug two trenches out to the Oleander trees. Then he had dug moat-like ponds around each tree and connected those to each other with another trench. This elaborate system of waterways was to be Fluffy’s new home. Finally, it could be a REAL duck (just like Pinocchio had become a real boy).
That was the plan anyway.
Well, I guess you can’t teach an old duck new tricks.
Although old Fluff seemed content enough in the daytime to swim around and around those trees, as soon as it would start getting dark, there would be that duck, loudly protesting, on the back porch, until it was let in for the night. So I continued to have a night time roommate…..until one morning when the strangest thing happened.
Fluffy, who, OK, OK, by now, was my pal, had remained non-gender specific. Then, this one morning I woke up and there was a large, brownish egg next to Fluffy in her “nest” (which consisted of a bunch of rags in one corner).
I was amazed.
My Mom was appalled.
I think it was some kind of Last Straw. For me, it simply solved the gender question. I was pretty sure it was the girls that laid eggs. From then on there was an egg every morning but no matter how hard I tried to wake up early, not make a move in my bed and to watch, I never was able to witness this amazing feat taking place.
“That damn duck should NOT be in this house!” is what I heard, day and night, and then I heard “well, at least we can eat the eggs.” Of all the nerve! They wanted to EAT the EGGS. AAARGH!! I mean, REALLY! I wasn’t sure why I even cared but hey, I figured, my duck, my eggs. At one point, we actually had 11 eggs in the fridge but they mysteriously disappeared one morning. I don’t even want to think about where they went.
Somewhere along in here, the next door neighbors adopted a HUGE, yellow Tom Cat, biggest one I had ever seen. He roamed the neighborhood pretty freely and this, for some reason, had my normally calm Dad very upset. What happened next, I didn’t even find out about until years later when my father, figuring the statute of limitations was up on Parental Betrayal, told me the whole story.
Evidently, Daddy was extremely worried that I would be wounded beyond healing if one day while Fluffy was paddling around in the back yard, that big old yellow cat stopped by for a meal. So, plotting with my mother and all my younger sisters (it seems I was to be betrayed by my entire family) they came up with a plan.
One Saturday morning they told me that due to my “oldest kid privileges”, I got to go to Story Time at the public library. (The trick they were about to play on me was dirty enough without using that to get me to cooperate.) I was dropped off in front of the library, and told they would be back for me in 2 hours. I thought I was pretty hot stuff. Not even 8 years old yet, but old enough to go to the library all by myself. Their sinister plan was to charge back to the house, capture my duck and take her to Balboa Park, up by the zoo, where all the wild ducks wandered free. This actually was a well-intentioned plan. They thought it would be easier for me to recover from the inevitable loss of my duck if I was told she had a miraculous cure, her broken wings magically repaired, and she simply flew away while I was at Story time.
Nice try Dad.
The tale he confessed years later went like this. They all drove to a secluded place in the park where there was a pond and lots of city ducks. Dad, with my pal Fluffy under his arm, my traitorous family sitting in the car watching, walked out across the expanse of lawn toward the pond. He said a few words of good-bye, and tossed my duck toward the water. Satisfied that he had done his duty as a loving, protective father, he turned to walk back to the car.
Well, Fluffy was having none of this. She duck-waddled after Dad until she caught up with him, and then pacing herself to stay even with him, calmly followed him back to the car.
This could be a very long story. Let me just say that after several attempts, Dad gave up, and they brought Fluffy back home. Hey, imprinting is imprinting and like I said before, you can’t teach an old duck….
I think I had fluffy until I was about ten. She eventually learned to live outside, day and night. I was finally convinced that we shouldn’t waste her eggs, and duck egg omelets became a weekly treat. And ultimately, just as my Dad had feared, that damn orange cat got her.
But, I tell you what. She was my pal and what I know now is that she was an extremely unique duck. Not a bad first pet. Not bad at all.
That’s me in the center…clearly in love with my duck! (also pictured are neighbor girl and my sister, Eileen)