Childhood experiences are often a nugget for any project I work on. While this one hasn’t made into a story as of yet, don’t worry it will.
I grew up on a small farm, running with wild abandon through the land with my siblings and neighborhood kids. Trees were climbed, clover bracelets and necklaces were woven, and things were poked with sticks. We were a farm version of Noah’s ark, usually more than 2 types of animals present at all times. Chickens – too many, Ducks – very territorial, Cows – escape artists, Pigs – so not Babe, Bees – a story for another day, Cats – well fed, and a Dog.
Tuesday was Primary day (our children’s auxiliary at church), we’d pile into a VW bus and head up to our chapel. My mom could easily have had a career as a ring master as she did her best to wrangle us.
This particular Tuesday the air was heavy with humidity and the perfume of all things green. The contented sound of ducks hunting insects added to the symphony of summer noises. Mom threw the bus into reverse. An extra bump from the normal driveway rutting and the anguished shriek of a duck sounded over the engine noise. The bus leaned as we all moved to press against the window to see what had happened. Mom cut the engine and was trying to capture the wildly flapping duck in her ‘going to town’ clothes. Neither my mom nor the duck were happy.
Mom had six kids in a VW bus and a wounded duck. If my dad had been in town, there would have been roasted duck on the table. Instead, she barked the order to get a towel and a laundry basket. Swaddling the duck tightly, she put the laundry basket on the front seat, the duck in the basket and off we went to find a vet.
Did I mention I grew up in farming country?
Mom entered the vet’s office with her own flock trailing her, the duck commenting on everything. As the vet was presented with the duck he was clearly thinking of every duck recipe he’d ever had. But the six faces staring at him had him asking ‘what seems to be the problem?’ Our voices tumbled over each other as we explained what happened.
Mom had committed the ultimate crime in our eyes, she’d run over the duck.
Understanding the delicate situation my mom found herself in, the vet wrapped the duck’s broken leg in a cast, and charged her a princely sum for the honor. We all piled back into the bus and headed home. The duck basked in the luxury of the laundry basket for the night, his commentary of on his less than appealing accommodations sounded through the night.
When morning arrived, the duck had nibbled away the expensive cast and was puttering freely around. That’s right, the stupid drama-duck had freed itself of its encumbrance and was miraculously cured of any trauma.
This time visions of duck recipes were swirling around my mother’s head – fricassee, roasted, dumplings – duck was about to be on the menu.
Clueless, we celebrated the miracle. The duck sang with vigor, though looking back I believe it was performing the duck equivalent of neener-neener.
The duck lived to quack another day.