Monday, March 29, 2010

Spring In Duckville

Hi Folks!

Thanks for stopping by! As I write this, the sun is shining, the weather is balmy, and the crocuses have come out to say hello. It appears that spring has indeed sprung!

I've been waiting for warmer weather for a couple of reasons: first and foremost, because winter sucks! I don't like being cold, and I really hate the fact that it gets dark at five in the afternoon. Winter days are so cold, short, and forbidding that it's almost not worth getting out of bed!

The other big reason I've been impatient for winter to end is that I hadn't been to the Mitchell's to see Ducky and Puddleduck since November. Pat and I have emailed back and forth through the winter months, and she's kept me up to date on the ducks' activities, but it's not the same as actually visiting. Believe it or not, I've missed those two!

Pat told me that they spent the vast majority of their time huddled in the garage keeping warm. Neither one was inclined to venture outside much. I think the cold bothered both ducks, as they each have leg issues and probably arthritis as well. Pat said it was pointless to visit until spring, when they'd be out in the yard more, so I stayed away all winter. The two ducks were never far from my mind, though.

When decent weather finally hit, a few weeks ago, I decided to take a walk at the nature preserve. Driving by Pat's house on the way there, I found her out raking leaves in her yard. Impulsively, I pulled into the driveway and said hello. We chatted for a bit, then she invited me to head out back to see the ducks.

As always after a span of time has elapsed between visits, I wondered whether Ducky would remember me. Let's face it - they've got pretty small brains, right? And most critter brains focus exclusively on eating, mating and staying alive. So where does "visit Kelly" fall on a duck's list of priorities? Your guess is as good as mine.

I hadn't even closed the latch on the gate before I got my answer: here came Ducky, walking my way and greeting me with his usual, "duck, duck, duck." Seriously, that's what ducks sound like when they're muttering. It's a sound I became quite familiar with, the times when Pretty Boy recuperated in my bathroom, and it's a sound I find amusing: I don't know what they're saying when they mutter like that, but it's clear that they've got something important on their minds!

So before I'd gotten all the way through the back gate, Ducky had recognized my voice, calling my usual hearty greeting, "Ducky! There's my pal!" and had come over to say hello. I can't tell you how heart-warming it is know that I've made enough of an impression on Ducky - and Puddleduck, who came over to greet me as well - that there's room to remember me in their small duck brains. We had a brief visit, in which I promised to bring snacks the next time I came, and then I made my way to the nature preserve for that walk I'd planned on.

Ducky's recognition of me put me in a happy frame of mind for the rest of the day. It was one thing to know that they were well-looked-after by the Mitchells, but it was quite another for me to be able to stroll onto their property after several months' absence, and be greeted by the ducks like a long lost friend. It never fails to amaze me!

As I was reflecting on my visit at the Mitchell's, and ducks in general (mating season is in full swing now at McKinnon's Pond), I realized with a start that it was a year ago this month that Pretty Boy was found dead. I recall telling you about it, and saying that one fine spring day, I would scatter his ashes at the pond he had spent his life on. I still haven't done it. For the last twelve months, the decorative tin that holds his ashes has remained in the same spot on my kitchen table, right next to the sage green casserole dish with the rabbit-shaped lid.

Knowing that I'd be writing about this, I gave some thought to why I never scattered the ashes as I said I would. I came to the conclusion that it would've been more permanent an act than I'm ready for. In some inexplicable way, as long as I leave that tin of ashes on the table, I don't have to face the awful permanence of Pretty Boy's death. I know there's no logic in that, but that's how grief is.

It's worth noting that, in the year since my favorite duck's death, I've yet to receive a bill for his cremation. Clearly, Pretty Boy touched more lives than just mine in his short time on earth!

Mitigating my sorrow has been the irrepressible Ethel Duck, who runs to greet me every single time I'm at the pond. She visits the longest, eats the most, and trusts me more than any of the others. Her cheerful nature makes up for many things: cold winter weather, wind chills, rainy days, and, in a small way, the loss of the World's Greatest Duck. I'm happy to report that Ethel's companion, Big Boyfriend Duck, is still with her. They've been together over three years, now, and they're still monogamous!

So there are highs and lows for me right now: pleasant visits with Ethel at the pond, and Ducky and Puddleduck at the Mitchells, but also a lingering twinge of sadness at the loss of that wonderful duck. If there is indeed a heaven, Pretty Boy is no doubt waddling around the front gate, waiting for me and muttering, "duck, duck, duck!"

That's all for now, folks! While you're waiting for my next blog entry, please check out my Youtube page (enter Crazy Critter Lady in the Youtube search engine) - I've got several videos posted already, with more to come soon. One of these days, I'm going to get Ethel on video and make her cheery smile world-famous! Until next time, please be kind to all the critters!

1 comment:

Dorri said...

In Memory of Muffin
Goodbye Muffin, it's clear to me that you were very very loved.

So beautifully presented, Kelly, it's as though I were there, in the room with you both.