Freddie is pleased to announce the official engagement of Henry “Wiki” Nguyen to Emily Doodle. This pairing took everyone at Garden Lodge by surprise as Henry and his adopted muscovy sister, Bernadette, daughter of Sao-Ree and Jing-Jai Dactyl, have been inseparable since they were ducklings in June. A source says Emily must have known just the right things to say to Henry because she has him wrapped around her webbed toes. The couple has chosen Freddie to preside over their union.
“By all evidence, I expected Henry would win-over Bernadette, his adopted sister, but something changed between them. Bernadette has been hanging out with her mother and talking to her father through the fence a lot. Maybe daddy didn’t approve of Bernadette marrying a runner duck. I have to say, I’d be afraid of her dad. That Sao-Ree’s a big fella,” says Emily’s long-time friend Ming.
Paparazzi has followed the surprise couple closely during the past week, catching them breast-to-breast at various functions.
An inside source says that Emily has always been a loner and that they never expected that at five years of age Emily would get engaged, nor that young and dashing Henry would put aside his interests in Science News and taste-testing salsa for long-term romance.
Endurance is developing inside a fragile egg, only to be crushed within 48 hours of hatching and still surviving. Just like a little dinosaur.
Eggs are fragile, yet the eggs of various species survive harsh conditions and still go on to grow an embryo that, in the case of a duck, hatches within a month’s time. Within a few days of hatching, the duckling must start tapping away with that egg tooth in order to “pip” a small breathing hole. But this doesn’t mean she’s ready to hatch, only that her air sacs (lungs) must grow accustomed to breathing air. She will wait in the warmth and moisture within the egg, alternately sleeping and tapping away until the egg cracks, then she will push with her tiny legs and neck so that the egg splits and she is hatched. By that time her umbilical cord will have dried up because she has used all the nourishment the yolk provided to break free from the egg.
Not Bernadette. She was trampled when her mother, a chocolate muscovy duck, defended her from a marauding flock. Bernadette had only begun to pip. She needed a few more days to develop and work her way out the egg. When I found her I thought she would die. I brought mum and Bernie, inside her crushed egg, into the house where I stayed up all night with a ceramic heater blasting onto a wet cloth to provide both moisture and heat for Bernie as I held her and watched for her umbilical cord to dry up. Hours passed. When her umbilical clotted and turned dark brown, I pinched it off and placed her carefully under mum.
I could hear them talking to each other throughout the night. That’s how I knew Bernadette would be okay.
This year has been the biggest gardening endeavor I’ve tackled to date. My garden, mind you, pales in comparison to my mother’s. (She lives in an 11,000 square foot school house from 1936 on 8 acres.) Much rearranging took place. All I did was dig and dig and carry rocks and bricks and tie knots in baling twine, and smile. I worked wholeheartedly, which has been helpful physically as far as getting my strength back (I had major surgery and a kidney removed in 2011 and getting strong again has been a challenge).
Freddie supervised the entire project. He assured me that there was no way to mess up. He’s a very helpful Persian Pauper, indeed.
Summer 2014 has been a summer of love.
Tomatillos sprang from one of the old duck pool garden beds, uninvited, and they flourished. I learned to cook chutneys and make salsas I’d never heard of before.
Other plants took over various areas of the yard. This photos shows the dog yard, which was virtually overgrown with volunteers. I give the ducks squash and tomatoes, so each year I get a jungle from plants that spring up on their own. These had to be uprooted when I moved the fence, but some good harvests were had beforehand.
Little ducks, I love them so much with their soft bills that end in tiny, curled smiles. I love their inquiring eyes that sparkle as they tip their heads to look up at me, eyes that come in amber, chocolate, espresso, ice blue, sky blue, hazel, green and any combination of colors with magnificent specks and flecks of brilliance surrounding their pupils. Just like us they have friends and lovers and partners. They go steady, have one night stands, go on dates. They get jealous and have fights over things that are not readily apparent to observing humans. Some of these fights seem to be verbal, in fact.
A knock on my door around 10 p.m. as I was about to leave and be designated driver for my friend. Who could it be? Then the doorbell rings. I decide to peak out the window–it’s late and I’m not expecting anyone–and see the elderly neighbor in her bathrobe, hair disheveled. I fear an emergency.
She tells me a duck has been hit by a car out on Wellesley, the busy street a block behind me, that she was afraid the duck was mine. That the woman who tried to rescue the duck fell and is in the hospital.
I thanked her. I had counted my ducks about an hour earlier when I put them to bed. They’d been particularly noisy that day as I’d deflated the large pool and my sister and her fiance came over to help me move a cast iron bathtub in place of the pool.
I was confident the duck found on the street was not mine.
Still, I ran.
Maybe the duck is still alive.
What if I’d miscounted?
The section of street in question is particularly dark at night (as are many streets in Spokane where the streetlights are dim). Yet, I could see a feather. I knelt, plucked it from the ground, a brown color, much like my little muscovy, Jing-Jai and Sao-Ree’s baby, Bernadette.
Perhaps a feather flew from my yard; feathers fly up and away all the time.
A few more paces.
There she was: one of the most beautiful reddish-chocolate ducks I’d ever seen. White tips on her wings. Her eyes still open and moist, her mouth agape. She had crawled from the street into the weeds and died.
Where did she come from?
I picked her up and walked home with her on my arm, told the neighbor she wasn’t mine, but how grateful I was that she’d come to get me. Someone had lost their pet, a well cared for hen–young, from what I could tell.
Sometimes people commit cruel acts, like toss babies and puppies and duckies out moving vehicles. I hope that isn’t what happened. Still…this reminds me of the movie The Incredible Journey in which the two dogs and the cat travel a great distance to find their family, only this beautiful little duck was killed just feet away from her destination.
The more I thought about the circumstances throughout the night, the more heartbroken I felt. What if this duck was raised as a single duck in a house a few blocks away and she heard my girls quacking loudly, as they did today, in particular, and she escaped her enclosure, attempted to find the flock and that is how she met her end? This scenario is likely.
Poor, sweet little girl. I wish she’d crossed the street safely. A neighbor would have noticed and they would have thought she was mine, as was the case. Her dreams may have come true at last.
Almost. She almost made it.
I admire her courage.
And the woman who fell and is in the hospital for trying to save this poor duck–I admire her courage, too. I will find her and thank her. She is good people.