Today, I met my new neighbor. It was by accident. Hidden behind a bush and sitting on top of red mulch, I noticed a female duck. I must have startled her as I strode past because her feathers fluffed up and she squawked, or quacked. I couldn’t tell the difference, for I too, was taken by surprise, and jumped back.
We acknowledged each other and politely said our hellos. I proceeded to tip-toe on by, when she called after me to come back and sit with her awhile.
I hesitated. This is weird. What if she bites me? But, then I obliged and sat down about a foot away, on one of the retaining wall’s stone pavers. Didn’t want to crowd her.
It was windy and warm out, so I brushed aside the bangs from my eyes. I could smell the White Callery Pear Blossoms, and rain. It would rain later.
At first we just sat there, gazing at one another. We were strangers of course, and trying to figure out what to talk about.
It was awkward, but not really. I turned my attention to my feet. I adjusted the toe strap of the right flip-flop and then began to scrutinize the pink color on my toe nails, when she spoke.
“Thank you for joining me. I haven’t had an opportunity for any ‘grown-up’ conversation, in well…quite some time. You see, I’m expecting the hatching of five little ducklings, soon.” She chuckled. “It kind of gets lonely out here, if you know what I mean.”
I smiled. “Well, congratulations are definitely in order. This is exciting news.”
She ruffled her feathers. “I appreciate it. Oh, I’m Esther, by the way.”
I looked around my property, having strolled around it often, and wondered. “How long have you been here?”
“A few weeks.”
“Hmm…Never seen you before. You camouflage pretty good.”
Esther quaked. “Ah…that’s my job.”
We talked some more. She was originally from Ohio, but her “duck” husband, Mel, was born in Chicago. They met down south and together, migrated back here in December. They married, and well, the rest is history.
I told her about my daughters, but Esther already knew about them; having seen the girls running around the backyard.
She shook her head in disgust. “Your children are loud and rambunctious.”
I apologized, embarrassed for my wild little kids. Esther quacked again, admitting she was only kidding.
We became quiet again, and I went back to studying my toes. Gosh, I have to get my toes done soon.
Esther spoke up. “Ah…silence is golden.”
I snorted. “Get your rest because it won’t be quiet for long.”
She sighed. “You’re right.”
“In fact,” I continued, “do all the sleeping now because once those little ducklings are out, forget about ever sleeping.”
Esther quacked. “I remember the good ol’ days of freedom.”
“Yeah,” I agreed. Freedom, huh? It’s so long ago. But then I gestured with my hand. “It’s all worth it. Bringing life into the world.”
“I’m scared,” she revealed.
I shrugged. “I understand. I’m scared every single day too. There are no guarantees in life. You do your best in protecting, and loving and feeding your children. The rest is up to God.”
Esther turned away. I could tell she was emotional.
She looked back at me. “I’m sorry. My hormones are out of whack.”
I laughed. A duck having hormone issues. “Having ducklings will do that to you.”
I then wondered about something else. “Do you get up? Walk around? You know, stretch, and go to the bathroom?”
Esther fluffed her feathers. “Are you kidding? Of course. My butt feels like a rock after sitting here all day long, not to mention my legs are so stiff.”
I nodded. “That’s good. What about the eggs? Are they okay being left alone?”
She stretched her neck. “Mel comes and guards the nest while I go and do my personal affairs, if you know what I mean?”
I grinned. Yes, private time is important.
Silence fell upon us again, and I was getting antsy. My own butt was hurting from sitting on the retaining wall.
Esther yawned. “Well, if you’ll excuse me, it’ time for a nap.”
Got it. So, I stood up.
She quaked. “I liked our conversation.”
I waved. “Me too.”
“Hope to see you soon. Please, stop by again.”
I said my goodbye, and strutted away.
The conversation left my heart filled. Filled in such a way one feels after having enjoyed the company of someone else. Content. Did I really just talk to a duck?
I realized fiction or not, one point was true. We were different, very different. Esther was a duck, an animal, and I was a human. However, we held a common bond—motherhood.
In the daily grind of managing a home, nourishing the young, handling of the homework duty, and being a referee, comes the rewards of nurturing life and sharing wisdom with the ones you love.
Raising children is one of the hardest duties of a woman’s life. Sometimes, we too, need a good conversation with another being.
That evening, I peeked out my window and saw Mel standing guard. Esther had gone out to do her duties.
I snickered. “Good Mel. Take care of your bride, buddy.”
And, that’s the nature of life.
#motherhood #raisingkids #momconversation #momsdayout #natureoflife #amwriting #readlocal