June
10th 2008
Odd ducks

Posted under: Uncategorized

I thought I heard a duck quacking suspiciously near my open office window this morning, but I didn’t think anything of it, because there’s a pond in a park one block away, and we hear quacking and honking all of the time, all year long.  But just a few minutes ago, my next-door-neighbor rang the doorbell, and who was standing there with her but the duck in question, bold as brass, quacking loudly whenever my neighbor threatened to walk away and return to her window-washing. 

I’ve seen this duck before–ze’s an odd little farm duck who apparently isn’t welcome among the other birds down at the park.  (Most of them are very cool Mallards and Canada Geese who are busy raising their little families this time of year.)  This duck seems to be very comfortable with humans–ze let my neighbor pet hir, and quacked in protest when I went back inside.  Ze might be flight impaired–I’ve never seen hir fly, and believe that ze must have walked down the street to our yards!  Poor thing.

9 Comments »

9 Responses to “Odd ducks”

  1. Indyanna on 10 Jun 2008 at 1:09 pm #

    Wow, all I’ve got is some gentrifier renovating a rowhouse about a hundred feet up Cypress St. (really a back service alley) from my open-windowed reading aerie, which must remain open in this heat. So it’s whining saws, clanging hammers, and the clatter of the occasional service truck. Closest “pond” is a muddy river a couple of blocks away. That duck looks like a wiry customer opting for more sophisticated company than you can get in Mallard City. Funny that it doesn’t want you to go back inside.

  2. Sisyphus on 10 Jun 2008 at 3:47 pm #

    Quack!!!!

  3. Historiann on 10 Jun 2008 at 4:15 pm #

    It turns out that a four-year old of my very close acquaintance played with this duck in the park yesterday, dubbing hir “the very gentle duck.”

    Indyanna–now I understand why you always have found my houses to be “country houses,” when they seem very citifed to me. (We’ve got city water after all, with fluoride too, not well water!) I’m a little worried about this duck, since it doesn’t seem to be big on flying or swimming, and since the wildest things I’ve seen around here lately are foxes…they’re getting very bold, as I’ve had foxes cross the road right in front of me in daylight!

  4. mary on 10 Jun 2008 at 6:04 pm #

    I am musing about little creatures today, historiann. My roommate agreed to adopt two kittens for a week before they make their way to a farm. And in nerdy effort to be gender neutral (we don’t know their sexes), we have named one Charlie and the other Salem. I really don’t want to give them up next week!

  5. Kathie on 10 Jun 2008 at 6:59 pm #

    Your duck sighting reminded me of Richard Russo’s wonderful academic satire, Straight Man. Some shenanigans with a duck play an important part in the story – the cover of some editions even shows a duck. The novel marvelously covers departmental meetings, mid-life crises, marriage, and family more generally. Among my favorite characters is a male faculty member who pipes up with “or she” every time other faculty members use the exclusive male pronoun – they take to calling him “Orshe.”

  6. regis de trobriand on 10 Jun 2008 at 8:26 pm #

    It definitely has the bird flu. Run for your life.

  7. Historiann on 10 Jun 2008 at 8:51 pm #

    Kathie–that’s right! I forgot about the duck in Russo’s book. But, for my money no academic satire has ever beat the original, Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis. By comparison, Russo’s book is warm and good-humored, as opposed to the almost unrelieved misanthropy of Jim Dixon, exacerbated by postwar rationing, no doubt.

    I just got back from the the park, and there was no sign of the duck. Maybe ze found a soft-hearted person like Mary to take hir in–or maybe ze made it back to its nest safely. And Regis–if that duck has the avian flu, then my neighborhood is ground zero for the epidemic! There’s a whole island full of giant nesting birds in my park.

  8. Indyanna on 11 Jun 2008 at 7:36 am #

    Straight Man is the funniest novel of academic manners I’ve ever read, but I’ve also heard before that Lucky Jim is better, so maybe I should give it a try. Russo briefly practiced (and much later wrote) from the very edge of Transaltoonia, transformed into Railton in his book, so maybe that’s why it cut so close to “home” with me.

    My two favorite parts: driving his hapless and failed son-in-law to the airport and breaking the news to him that he (the kid) is moving to Atlanta. And crawling through the dropped ceiling space above the seminar room in which the English Department is meeting and talking about him…

  9. Historiann on 11 Jun 2008 at 8:33 am #

    Indyanna–you really should read Lucky Jim. I think it would strike very close to home with you–the tale of a young war vet, a striver, at a Red Brick provincial university struggling against the stupidity and morbidity of his senior colleagues…

    The only thing I don’t like about the novel is (of course!) the caricature of the woman academic. But, the novel is so hillarious and so timelessly relevant to academia that I’ll forgive Amis’s portrayal of Margaret.