We were down to one duck and she was lonely. Miss Pearl followed the Englishman around the yard. She perked up when the dogs raced through the back garden. She was a frequent visitor in the garage, stretching her neck and peering through the back door glass. Her nighttime quarters in Puddle Duck Pub were cavernous and I imagined her quacks echoing through the space like an empty cathedral.
I did what any high-heeled wearing modern farm girl would do and fired up the I Pad to search Craigslist. I found what I was looking for and only ten miles away. Four ducks: two Crested Peking and two Blue Swedes. Ten dollars per duck, two for twenty or all four for twenty. I did the math and decided on four. The Englishman and I headed out with one dog crate and very vague directions. “After the four-way stop sign in Rutledge, go past three roads on the left and then we are directly across from the third road”.
The Englishman and I argued over whether a dirt road counted as a road. He proclaimed that the Romans would disagree. We ended up in a cemetery and decided to call the woman for better directions. This time she added more details including the name of the road that her residence faced and that she had the only fish mailbox for miles. She also mentioned that it might be only two roads past the four-way stop sign. I think she struggled with counting.
Armed with the new information, we zoomed past a road without a sign and a tacky fish mailbox. It was a mile before I could turn around. I drove down a narrow dirt path that was a driveway and cautiously approached the double-wide trailer. We were greeted by a flip flop wearing woman with obviously natural maroon colored hair. Random tattoos on her feet and ankles accessorized her tank top that was stretched tightly over her ample torso. She led us to her chicken and duck pen. Rusty tin cans littered the back yard and my five-inch wedge heels crunched across the dead grass. Thirty or so tiny Bantam chickens darted about the area with crazy feathers sticking out from their legs like old-fashioned bloomers. The Englishman and the woman’s husband entered the pallet and chicken-wired structure to retrieve the ducks. Moments later, we settled up with a twenty-dollar bill and headed home listening to the quacks in the back of the car.
Miss Pearl was waiting in the driveway when we returned. The Englishman carried the crate to the duck sanctuary and placed it on the grass. Miss Pearl excitedly circled the crate, peering through the slits in the sides. We opened the door but the ducks stayed inside. Impatient, Miss Pearl dive-bombed the crate and pushed her way to the back, trying to force the other ducks out. Frustrated, she emerged first and the others timidly followed.
At first they noticed the food and happily gorged but then they saw the green turtle pool. I don’t think they had been in water before and all four piled in bathing and diving and swimming in manic circles. Their feathers hadn’t been waterproofed and they were wet and dripping and thoroughly happy.
The Englishman lit the tikki torches to fend off the mosquitoes and we tossed frozen corn and peas to our newest additions. Miss Pearl established the pecking order with herself as the leader. She was twice the size of the new flock and as I watched them empty the food bowl, I was sure they had been underfed.
As the sun disappeared in the sky, the lights inside Puddle Duck Pub beckoned them to enter and Miss Pearl led her charges inside. I closed the door and stayed behind for a few moments listening to the quacks. “Don’t teach them all your bad habits, Miss Pearl,” I chided before retiring for the night.