Sunday, April 20, 2008

Duck!! It’s A Mother

Devoted readers may remember my rant last year about the “War of the Leaves,” the annual struggle to remove 40 million leaves from the tiered planted area behind our deck that the guy that built this house adorned with the most efficient leaf-catching plants known to Man.
This year’s war was the worst yet, because we have had several very windy days in both the fall and the winter, with prevailing breezes of 30 mph and gusts of 50 or so. Those days blew in additional leaves from neighboring yards, compounding the chore of removing them.

I approached the task a little differently, foregoing raking in favor of using a blower for the task of moving the giant leaf piles to the wooded part of my lot. Mostly what has happened is that I have had to clear the planted area and deck multiple times, five, so far.

As spring approached there was a lot of unusual bird activity, which I wrote about. You remember: the dozens of vultures? But another bird appeared that was unusual in a different way. Not too far from our house—probably a couple hundred yards, as the crow flies—is the Town’s water supply pond, which has a rather large number of ducks on
it during spring/summer/fall. Imagine my surprise when I saw one of those ducks walking around in the planted areas behind the deck. The only time I’ve seen ducks this far from the pond is the occasional fly-over. I commented to Diane that this critter must have bad radar or something. I didn’t see the duck again after one other sighting the next day.

Until yesterday. While removing the leaves for the fifth and I hope final time, this time with the vacuum feature of the blower, I stuck the vacuum’s pick-up tube in a planter and noticed something that looked a whole lot like the furry seeds that dandelions produce
, only a lot larger. And then, I noticed the duck’s head nestled in the leaves. What I had mistaken for large dandelion-like seeds was duck down; that darned duck has built its nest out there, nowhere near the water.

I’m a little surprised that our prized hunter, Corky, the Beagle-mix, hasn’t found the duck, but since she doesn’t get up on the tiers often, I guess the critter and her babies will be safe. At least until they hatch and start moving around.

I could end this by saying, “Life is sweet - when the birds come home to roost,” but that would be plagiarizing Buffalo, and that would be wrong. So, I’ll just stop.

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