Sunday, 7 April 2013

Waiting for the ducks



The Girl has two friends over today, the daughter of our neighbours, and so far they have helped me gather the ducks and bring them to the canal. This is a big day for us, as tonight we find out whether we’ll have ducks tomorrow.

We live along a canal, you see, one built in the 1700s to transport horse-drawn barges of turf (peat) from the bog-lands around us to the shivering residents of Dublin.  Our chickens and ducks are well-fed and healthy, but now that they’ve had a while to settle in, I wanted to let the ducks out to the canal and swim about.

Our neighbours did this for years and the ducks never went anywhere. When we wanted to give someone directions to our home, in this countryside of dense hedgerows and unnamed roads, we directed them to our stretch of canal and said, “Turn at the ducks.”

The ducks, though, are not imprinted on us, and have only been with us a couple of months, and we are not assured they will return to us. The Girl understands this, and knowing she might cry if they flew away, asked me if we could wait until after Easter. 

So when The Girl’s friends came over, I asked them – three girls aged seven to nine, all with Bog of Allen accents – if they would help us collect the ducks, and after half an hour of running about, shouting and giggling they finally grabbed them as gingerly as one can grab. They fawned over the ducks, admiring their dinosaur feet, soft feathers and teeth-like grooves on their bills, and finally helped me lead them, with bread crumbs ahead and thin sticks behind, toward the canal. After a bit of kerfluffle, they took the plunge, and when last seen were happily rummaging through the banks.

“But what if a dog catches them?” they asked.

How many ducks do you see outside every day? I asked. Dozens? “Um …  yeah.”

How many dogs walk by here a day – hundreds? “Yeah.”

How many dogs, I asked, have you seen with a duck in their mouth?

“None,” they all said together. Exactly, I said. Dogs can’t swim as well, and they can’t fly. I’m glad you care about them, I said, but don’t worry -- they’re ducks, I said, and are well equipped to live outside and swim.

Now, I thought, let’s hope we’re right.

Update: We spotted the ducks a ways down the canal, apparently quite happy. We'll see if they come home tonight. I feel like a parent sitting on the porch waiting for their child to come home.
Come to think of it, I'm doing that too -- The Girl is walking her friends home through the pastures - but I have more faith in my daughter than I do in the ducks.

1 comment:

Ann said...

Eeeee!! The suspense! Can't wait to find out if they return.