At the beginning of December, the ducks finally noticed the pond in the back yard. Not the turtle pool that I had been filling twice a day for their bathing pleasure, not the small Koi pond the Englishman and I had been digging just for them…the big pond. The pond with a dock and a row boat and their fancy floating duck house. The real pond with room to forage along the banks and tasty bits to pluck from the surface.
A couple of months earlier, I tried to introduce them to the pond. I herded the ducks to the dock and managed to catch two. With a duck under each arm, I trekked to the end of the wooden dock and tossed them unceremoniously into the inky surface. They acted like I had tossed them into acid, flapping their wings and practically flying to the safety of the grass.
Now, the ducks marveled at the wonders the pond had to offer. They swam, they dove, they dunked each other below the surface and they foraged among the lily pads. They would only return to the main house if they were hungry and they avoided the shelter of their own little house I dubbed “Puddle Duck Pub”. Each morning when I let the dogs out, I would call to them with my own version of a duck call. “Ducks!” I would yell and they would quack back to me from their hidden spot in the pond. At night, I would walk down to the pond with my flashlight and play tag with them. I would shine my light to the left and they would swim furiously in a pack to the right. I’m not entirely sure they enjoyed this game as much as I did.
The mild temperatures of our southern winter finally gave way to the bitter, blustery winds of the New Year and the Englishman and I arrived home after work to find the ducks in a small pile of feathers near our driveway. It looked like they couldn’t remember where their house was after weeks of frolicking on the pond. We each grabbed a flashlight and guided them to the warmth of Puddle Duck Pub. I closed the door and listened to their chatter before retreating to the warmth of my own house. I was amused that, even with all those feathers, pampered ducks still get cold and could (partially) navigate their way back home.