The year 1999 as remembered by Abigail - a "plain white" duck.
What a year! The whole thing started off as a slow moving uncertainty. It seemed Winter just could not get it's act together and deliver any snow or consistently cold temperatures. When Spring came along [on schedule], Winter decided to deliver on the winter time conditions and then we had both seasons at once. When the two made up, why, Summertime was waiting for it's turn. Boy did it ever take a turn. The thermometer took off like a rocket and global warming raised the pond water a degree or three. In what seemed like under two weeks, us ducks went from picking our corn dinners off of frozen, bare ground to romping in a slippery, muddy paradise and finally hiding from a dry scorching summer. Well maybe not that roughly, but certainly too fast to get our feet dry in between. With weather like that I'm glad to be a duck.
My name is Abigail. I am a "plain white" duck. If you haven't noticed me during a previous visit, that is understandable. I am afraid that I am easy to overlook. If you had seen me or my family, it would have been during evening chore time. We wait our turn while you and the Olde Fogies serve our humble corn dinner. I can easily imagine the turkey gobbling most of the spotlight while Wootsie [the pot bellied pig] tries at hogging the conversation. Other farm animals (I won't mention any names*) will clamor for your undivided admiration, but I prefer swimming in placid pond waters.
While I am a farm duck by choice, not all of my family lives on the farm. My extended family has flown far and wide. I often think of them when newsletter time of year comes around. What could they all be doing?
This year, the farm had a visit from a gal named Samantha who introduced herself as "Sammy". When she saw me, Sammy started making like she was flapping her arms and cracked: "'aaah just flew in from the big city and boy are my wings tired!" What a gal! Right from the start, we understood each other. While Sammy doesn't have wings, she does reside in a big city where she is a roommate of my distant cousins "Stanley" and "Zechariah." Which is why I mention our meeting. As I had not seen those two ducks in many years, Sammy insisted that I stretch my wings and come for a visit. So I did.
When I got to the distant city, Stanley and Zechie (Zechariah prefers to be designated "Zechie") were waiting for me at city limits. They guided me through the lively city all the while quacking rapidly about what we were flying over and by. I could hardly get a really good gander at the marvelous sights. I saw horseback mounted police directing ceaseless traffic, composed dogs arrayed in fancy tweed jackets, and buildings more numerous and much taller than the trees where I come from. I wondered to myself, "how do the pigeons put up with all the people?" When we arrived at their home, Sammy was there to welcome me. She encouraged me to get ready for a peachy good time.
That night, dinner began with a refreshing honeydew and cantaloupe aperitif. Following that, freshly sliced tomatoes and crisp lettuce were served gracefully over expertly prepared noodles. For the desert course, I learned, it is the custom to expect chocolate cocoa puffs or as Stanley mentioned, the French would specify: "chocolatine". What a menu: Sammy is a outstanding cook! Never before had I known anything like this. Afterwards, over my first ever glass of sparkling water, I was bashful to admit my favorite thing for supper was corn.
While the two seemed intrigued by the thought of humble country vittles, Stanley began discussing what they might introduce to me tomorrow night. He never finished his thoughts, for Zechie began quacking for Sammy to come from the kitchen and join us - it was time for their favorite drama, Law and Order. I had often heard of television and here it was: noisy, sensational, and absorbing - and that was just the commercials!
Before tucking in for the night they invited me to splash around in the heated tub. Although I thought their rubber ducky was a bit obvious, the bubble bath salts were positively divine! The sheets on my guest nest felt like pure silk. Between you and I, I was so very comfortable I could hardly sleep.
The next day I found myself perched with Stanley and Zechie in the back seat window of Sammy's fancy car. They pretended to hardly notice that children riding in the other cars were excitedly pointing and whooping, "look Mom! Look Dad! Real Ducks!" The two quack ups beamed - it was off to the beach for the usual quick dip.
Wow! Did they ever make it real big in the big city. I hardly believed I was related to them - they are indeed a different breed of duck. I was sad to leave, but I could see it was time for me to fly off. I thanked them for their congeniality and made my way home a resolved duck. I may be a modest duck but that does not make me a plain duck.
I have a wonderful primary family. Seymour and I are just ducky about each other. Together, we swim a calm, sure pond. To our credit, we have raised two accomplished duckies. At times there is the twinge of an empty nest, but we shine through every story of their busy lives and treasured families. With my head full of such thoughts to warm my heart, I was home before I had finished counting my blessings.
Besides, I too have a busy life. Biz has suggested that I renovate the farm pond. It's time to turn the pond into something for both the bed and breakfast guests and ducks alike to enjoy. I'm bringing in big trucks and special earth moving machines that will growl and snort and move around the rocks and dirt. I'm planning to transform this cloudy loch into a luxurious pond with crystal clear water. Only Uncle Gustav, resident old timer goose remembers when the pond was crystal clear - and he is so "olde" and considerable that he doesn't worry when thanksgiving time comes around!
With crystal clear water, Farmer Tom might even get his feet wet. However, Biz says little guests will need to have their parents along. I agree that is a very important rule, since they have no webbed feet designed for paddling! Maybe in the winter time when the kids are at school and the kids at heart come for a winter getaway, they can go ice skating on our pond. Seymour and I will just swim in the creek, there's plenty of room here for everyone. My pond is not half empty, it truly is half full.
Heartfeltly yours, Abigail.
Editor's note: Stanley and Zechariah are real ducks who live in the big city with "Sammy." They enjoy all the delights alluded to in the above text and fall asleep every night to lovingly sung lullabies. The part about Abigail flying all the way there to see them is - ahem - a little murky.
* If you want to know who could behave so rudely, make sure to read the other year's newsletters at www.oldefogiefarm.com.