Spring has sprung! Gone are the gloomy ever-present clouds and harsh wind – well, some of the time – and blue skies tentatively emerge as if to say, ‘move over, it’s our turn now’. Clumps of snowdrops in my driveway give promise of warmer days ahead and other green growth becomes evident in the garden, albeit mostly weeds!
The season of Spring inspires romantic images of freshness and new life, like Wordsworth’s enduring daffodil poem. Most of us could, if asked, recite at least one line from this poem. I confess, I had to resort to Google for the complete verse, my inspiration for this story.
In Homage to Wordsworth’s Famous Poem.
I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills
When all at once I saw a crowd
A host of golden daffodils
Beside the lake, beneath the trees
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze
And then my heart with pleasure fills
And dances with the daffodils.
I, Demelza Duck.
I wandered lonely as a cloud. Oh no, that’s not it! Let’s start again.
I waddled briskly, herding my brood
That stop to peck at morsels found
When all at once, in a frantic mood
A loud, demanding quacking sound,
Beside the crossing, beneath the trees
Fluttering his wings, Dad quacks impatiently:
‘Do not dawdle a moment more
Or you five, may become four.’
While being concerned about our brood of five, Dad, as in Derek, my husband and proud father to our brood: Dilly, Daffy, Davy, Dolly and Delphinious, urgently wanted to get home to see the six o’clock news. You see, there is a bill before parliament – human parliament, that is, not our local duck council – concerning a proposal for duck-crossing signs to be installed in our neighbourhood. With all this new development – human housing and hence, increasingly busy roads – the safety of the duck community, is severely threatened. The once quiet, leafy and safe neighbourhood, has become alarmingly dangerous for us ducks. In times past, we could wander leisurely up and down the pathways and cross the roads nonchalantly. Now we must be on constant alert to danger. And it being springtime again, many young families are wandering the pathways and crossing the busy roads.
Those signs would make an immeasurable difference to our well-being and ultimately, the survival of our community. And it is important that our community survives. Aside from being residents here long before the human community converged, us ducks have a lot to offer. For example, take the cuteness factor: a line of little fluffy ducklings, their tail feathers swishing from side-to-side, waddling behind Mum duck, her head held high, absolutely fascinates humans.
Sadly, our bill has been postponed until the next sitting. Derek was outraged: ‘That’ll be too late,’ he ranted. ‘It is now that it’s needed, not sometime in the future when our young ones have grown!’
I keep my inner quacks to myself. No sense in alarming the young ones.
And then my heart with dread fills
And dies a little along with the bill.
I wandered lonely as a cloud. I wish!
Entrusted in my care for a week, I took the grandchildren aged two and three, to the local surf beach. My intention being that a visit to the beach would tire them enough to take an afternoon nap. The beach offers an abundance of entertainment and distractions – seagulls to chase, waves to frolic in, friendly dogs to pat, rock pools to explore, shells and sticks to gather and rocky cliffs to clamber.
I clambered cautiously, a steep cliff face
That teeters on high o’er rocks and beach
When all at once, I quicken my pace
A child of daring, I must reach
Beside a bolder, beneath a tree, stood he
Fluttering and wobbling, precariously
And then my heart with anxiety fills
And we awkwardly descend the rocky hill.
On reaching solid sand, I then raced along the beach. Behind a clump of rocks, the two year old had ventured out of sight. Tire the little tykes? Not likely. When we returned home, it was I, grandma, in desperate need of an afternoon nap!
Once home, following the unwritten law that grandparents are allowed to spoil their mokopuna, (and myself in need of a sugar fix,) I made us each an ice cream. The flavour, boysenberry, chosen by Mr Three Year Old, or as he aptly called it; boys and berries. Miss Two Year Old, promptly nibbled off the end of the cone. While she happily slurped the creamy delight from the top, the ice cream from the bottom trickled down the inside of her sleeve.
Then Mr Three Year Old, munching on his last bite of cone, chirped gleefully, ‘I like boys and girls ice cream!’
As I sat in the insipid spring sun later that afternoon, watching the grand kids energetically race around the yard on their bikes – neither of them having had an afternoon nap – my thoughts wandered, wandered to all things spring related. Snow-drops and daffodils, increased birdsong in the garden, frolicking lambs and cuddly kittens and fluffy ducklings, all those mushy-warm images.
I recalled the previous spring. Where I lived then, from my elevated lounge window in the early evenings, I often observed a duck family wandering along the footpath. In the lead would be a sprightly mother duck, her head held high. Five, fluffy ducklings followed closely behind, their tail feathers swishing from side to side. They’d stop and peck at the ground and quack in unison.
And very occasionally, a father duck would accompany them. But he’d be way ahead, quacking the loudest of all is if to hurry his brood homeward.
They sure had the cute factor, that family of ducks.