“The Chronicles of Esther and Mel.”
EXTRA…EXTRA…THIS JUST IN…LATEST UPDATE
Esther sighting. Taking a stroll the day before Mother’s Day.
On this glorious Mother’s Day, one little duckling hatched.
A FEW DAYS AGO…
We had a scare. Esther was gone. Several of her feathers were strewn all over the red mulch, and one of our solar lamps was cracked in half. It looked like there had been a brawl of some sort. The worst of it; a broken piece of egg shell lay near the nest.
There was more. I followed the trail of shell pieces on my lawn. At the bottom of the hill, the remains of a cracked-open duckling egg.
I ran to it and bent to inspect it. There inside, I saw matted black feathers and a little yellow beak peeking out. There was no movement and I knew it was long dead. I stood up and turned my head, it was a gruesome sight, too gruesome for pictures.
I walked back up and peered over the nest. It looked like the other eggs were still there, and they appeared intact.
Phew. Thank God! But, where was Esther?
I prayed she was okay. The problem now was who would take care of the rest of the eggs if Esther was not around?
My daughters came home from school and I had to tell them the news.
My older one bawled her eyes out. “Esther’s babies will die! She won’t have a Mother’s Day.”
My younger daughter had a different perspective. “What did the baby duck look like? Was the egg bloody? Can I see the egg, Momma?”
On and on, the girls went. Each with their own analysis of what might have happened.
What if a coyote had gotten her and her egg? What if she was hurt? And, where the hell was Mel? He’s the protector.
I spent the remaining afternoon trying to distract my girls from thoughts of Esther. Truly, I was just as sad. She chose our house to create her nest, and she didn’t mind us walking by and peeking at her. It was cool to visit with her too.
Gosh, it was just the other day I had witnessed a lesson in love.
It had rained for days and finally the sun came out. I was inside with the windows open when I heard a lot of quacking. I came rushing out to check on her.
“Hey, what’s the matter?”
She quacked. “Mel is supposed to be here and he’s not.”
“He’ll come, don’t worry.”
Esther huffed. “He probably went ponding.”
I crouched down beside her. “What’s ‘ponding’?”
Esther kicked up her webbed feet. “Seriously?”
I nodded. “Yes, seriously. I have no idea what ‘ponding’ is.”
She proceeded to tell me that it was male-duck game played on a pond where the ducks have to balance wet leaves on their beaks without dropping them, and then paddle to a make-shift basket in the water. The first duck with the most leaves in a basket wins.
I started laughing. Strangely, it reminded me of golf because most male-humans play the game.
Esther snorted. “It’s not funny. He’s supposed watch the eggs while I go and do my business, and he’s still not here.”
I was about to say…maybe he had good reason, maybe he was running behind…maybe he forgot…maybe…when suddenly, we see Mel fly through air and land a few feet away. He strode up all dapper and manly.
Esther began quacking loudly and pacing. It startled Mel and he hurried over.
“Where have you been? You’re late!” She blurted.
Mel puffed out his chest. “Ponding, like I told you.”
She shouted back. “You did not!”
“Yes, I did.”
Mel looked at me as if noticing me for the first time. I happen to be standing between them when the shouting match began. Aware of the awkwardness, I quickly got out of the way. It’s not good getting in the middle of couple fights.
Mel snuggled up against Esther’s neck. She seemed to relax. “I’m sorry for making you upset,” he whispered. “But, I did tell you, yesterday.”
Esther put her head down. “You’re right. I just remembered. You did tell me. My mind has been fogged lately. I’m sorry.”
“It’s okay. Me too. You’ve got a lot on your mind.” Mel then nudged her away. “Get going. I’ve got the eggs.”
“Yes, now go.”
Esther quacked and flapped her wings and away she went.
I gave Mel a thumbs up. “Good hubby.”
I momentarily closed my eyes and wished Esther would come back. This was her home.
“Momma, Momma, I’m hungry. Can I have a snack?”
And, just like that, I was back to reality.
Later that evening, after dinner, I decided to go for a walk. It was almost eight, but still light out. I strolled around our block. I couldn’t get the vision of the little cracked duckling egg out of my mind.
Just as I approached our house, I thought to look at Esther’s nest again. As I approached, I saw Esther making her way towards me.
Oh, my Goodness! I marched up to her.
“Esther, Esther, you’re back! Are you okay?” She looked alright.
The duck ignored me and went to her nest where she was squatting to get comfortable.
I waited until she was settled.
“I’ve been worried about you. Where have you been?”
Esther lifted her head toward me. “I don’t want to talk about it.”
“But, but, you little egg? You feathers?”
“Leave me alone. I’m really tired.”
I nodded and took it as my queue to leave. “Okay, okay, I understand. We can talk another time.” I didn’t want to mess with this Momma. She gave me the look, you know…
I turned and left. A pain had been lifted from my heart. Esther was back. She’s okay. The girls will be relieved. And, it will be a wonderful Mother’s Day, after all.
As to what happened to her? I don’t know. Whatever it was, it had to be.