Duck Stuffing

As spring seamlessly flowed into summer, the humidity thickened the air so that the smallest amount of exertion required an immediate shower.  The Englishman and I halted our efforts in forcing Slinky, Myrtle, Thorn and Poison Ivy into their floating Quack Shack each night.  They seemed content to bed down in the lush green grass at the pond's edge.  We lived in a neighborhood with such novelties as paved roads and sidewalks so I had no concerns about crime against ducks.  In the morning when I let the dogs outside, one duck would sound a loud, solitary quack and the four would charge up the hill, wobbling back and forth as they demanded food.  In the afternoons, the ducks would lounge under the bushes near the driveway, waiting for the sprinkler to spray streams of cool water.  The ducks would race through the mist, wings spread for balance, as fast as their webbed feet would allow.  They shared their treats of frozen peas and corn with George and Charlie and would scatter as Chase ran through their small flock.

And then there were three.  Just like a classic Agatha Christie mystery, one morning Slinky was gone.  I searched the yard in vain.  That evening the Englishman searched the other pond.  No feathers, no duck parts, nothing.  We felt responsible because we had abandoned our efforts to train the ducks to use their floating duck house as shelter.  "It takes about a month," I reminded the Englishman as we vowed to continue the training each evening just before dusk.

The first challenge was to catch the ducks.  Ever practical, I armed myself with a red broom and chased the ducks around the yard until I could pin one with the bristles.  Thwack!!!  Once it was pinned to the ground I could easily pluck it up and carry it to the pond.  I discovered if I caught one, the others would follow.  The Englishman did not approve of my duck catching technique.  Apparently running wildly through the backyard waving a broom in the air was not dignified.  Tossing my broom to the side, he smugly proceeded to instruct me in the finer points of herding ducks.  Apparently in England, one is born knowing how to herd ducks as it is a part of English DNA.  I was missing the duck herding chromosome and needed to pay close attention to his tutelage.  I took notes:

1.  Approach ducks (without a weapon of mass destruction) and halt the advance when the ducks move away from you.  This is their "comfort zone".

2.  Spread out your arms as if you were going to fly.  Do not pretend to fly as it is not dignified and may alarm the neighbors.

3.  Take a step to the right to make the ducks move to the left.  Take a step to the left to make the ducks move to the right.  Do not put down your arms to check your hands to see which is the left and which is the right.  Take a step forward to make the ducks move forward.  "Let's do the time warp again!"

4.  Ducks do not move in reverse so don't bother trying this.

5.  The American Broom Method is quicker.

Once the ducks were properly herded onto the dock, the Englishman tenderly placed them in the duck house.  Their quacks echoed inside the house as we retreated to ours.  Each evening we continued our "stuffing the ducks into the house" chore with 100% human effort and 0% duck effort.  Small breakthroughs occurred though.  First, we noticed that if we put one duck inside the house, it would quack and peek out of the door until the other two finally decided to join it.  Next, the ducks began to wait at the end of the dock at dusk, ready to be stuffed into their house.  Finally, I realized that the ducks could fly when one evening, as I placed one duck on the platform and attempted to stuff it through the doorway, the other two jumped from the dock, flapped their wings and glided over the tin roof of the house, landing in the water several feet away.  A few moments later, they joined their companion inside the house.

Duck Stuffing.  It's not a recipe...it's a skill!

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