Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Sometimes ya gotta get quackin'
We mowed the grass at my mom's this weekend, a bittersweet chore. The Sister and I lost our mom just before Thanksgiving, and the pain is still so deep that I can't breathe at times. And I swear, our pastor and God have this deal going, because every one of the invitation hymns at church are Mama's favorites.
As The Husband unleashed his big zero-radius lawn mower on the grass, and The Sister weed-eated, The Kiddo and I picked up pine cones. I thought about all the times I'd played in that big front yard, all the stories I made up -- multi-character plays with me cast in all the roles. I thought about all the pets that had tramped across Mama's prized centipede grass. I thought about Quack and Amos.
Quack and Amos were a pair of ducklings that Mama and I bought at a feed supply store after she'd let me buy, on the same day, a book about a duck called Amos. We lived out in the country, so the ducklings wandered loose and grew up to be snow-white -- I was rather disappointed that they changed from cute little fluff-balls to sleek white ducks.
We had other pets, too, including a poodle called Puff. Puff nearly drove Mama to distraction by chasing the ducks. Mama worried that one day she wouldn't be around when Puff finally latched onto either Quack or Amos. I don't know that she hedged her bets by looking up duck soup recipes, but I do know that Puff got lots of scoldings.
And then one day, Mama and I heard this awful noise. Some critter was in terrible pain, and it sounded a lot like a muffled duck's quack.
"Quick!" Mama told me, "run around that end of the house, and I'll go this way! Puff's got a duck!"
So off I went, as ordered. I wound up on the wide green expanse of Mama's Centipede, with Mama coming around the corner -- and in between, in a classic run-down formation, were Puff and Quack.
It was Quack that had Puff by the ear. Quack was two-stepping it along beside the trotting Puff, who was yelping with all her might. She couldn't run fast, because Quack had a firm hold on the tender poodle ear. The quacking noise? That was Quack, giving Puff the what-for.
Mama and I doubled-over with laughter. We stood and watched, and Mama did absolutely nothing to save Puff. Finally, Quack must have tired of the game, and Puff ran off.
She never chased another duck as long as she lived. In fact, Puff later on adopted some baby chicks.
So what's the takeaway for writers? Sometimes you have to face your worse fears. Waddle right up to that fierce poodle and grab on to any part you can get -- but be smart about it. Hang tight, even amid the yelping and squawking. And your problem may just flee for safety.