Mama Duck

b  eggsOne of my tree trimmers was standing in the driveway looking startled. I went out to ask what was wrong.

“Did you know you have a duck nest under that tree?” he asked. “She flew up at me when I got close, nearly scared me to death.”

I did not know. But there it was, a nest dug into the flowerbed, lined with leaves and bits of down, with four large white eggs. I had noticed a pair of mallards strolling about my lawn a few days earlier, but I’d seen that before without seeing a nest. There’s a creek two houses over, and the river’s a little further off. I asked the tree guy if he thought he could work without hurting the nest, and he said yes. This was good, because it had taken all this time for the trimming team to come clean up our damage from February’s ice storm (everyone in town had damage from the February ice storm) and I was relieved not to have to put it off. He was as good as his word. The duck was lurking maybe twenty feet away. When the tree crew moved off to a different part of the yard, she came back and settled on the nest.

b nestA day or two later she flew up to scare a random solicitor away – thank you, Duck – and I saw there were more eggs in the nest. Every evening before dusk she covered the nest carefully with leaf litter and down, and left for a while to feed, the nest so well camouflaged I sometimes wasn’t sure I was really looking at it (second photo). It was hard to see when she was on it, too, unless you saw her head move (third photo). The internet informed me that it was going to take a month for the eggs to hatch.

b sitting duckWhy did she build her nest so close to the house? Because the duck knew what she was doing. Predators were unlikely to come so near the house, and people, charmed by the cuteness factor of potential baby ducklings, were willing to concede a little space for a little while. I would give up using my front door for a month. Mama Duck had taken the habitat-trashing, ecological catastrophe of the human race, and promoted us to the role of Duck Protectors.

I find I am very proud of the promotion.


b tulip farmWhen the last of the deceased tomato vines came out of the garden in November, I put my tulip bulbs in. Come April and early May the result is what Doug calls The Tulip Farm. It’s a convenient arrangement because the fence keeps the deer and rabbits out of the flowers, which are all done blooming by time to use the raised beds for tomato plants.

b tulips gatheredEvery few days I go out with my flower bucket and cut a slew of Pink Impressions, Apricot Beauties, Salmon Pearls, and Darwin Whites from the garden’s largesse, and move Spring into the house.

b basket and vasesI’ve already been picking daffodils since late March, but the thing about daffodils is, if you put them in a vase with other flowers the other flowers will die. The culprit is said to be daffodil sap, which protects them from being eaten by critters and allows me to plant them anywhere at all in the whole yard. Fierce stuff. Cut daffodils have to be sequestered in their own vase for an amount of time that depends on how fresh the daffs are and how sensitive the other flowers. Some people give them just a couple of hours, but I haven’t had such luck. To get around the timing problem and still have mixed bouquets, I use several small vases set next to each other, for example like this basket containing three medium and three small vases.

b tulip basketWhen I put my current arrangement together the two small outer vases got only daffodils, leaving the tulips and other flora in peace. A little moss covers the vase edges, and the basket pulls it all into a nice, tidy, well-balanced array for the living room.

b full bloomBut sometimes nice and tidy just doesn’t cut it. For those times, I get out my big crystal vase and let the tulips go wild.