Every morning I search the river for ducklings. From an unobtrusive, non-invasive distance, I hasten to add. And using my eyes. Certainly not camouflaged and wearing thigh-high wading boots, trawling the river and poking the undergrowth for possible hiding places, although I’ve seen the police do it on telly when they’re looking for escaped convicts.
Always approach escaped convicts with caution and pepper spray.
Imagine living in a pretty little chocolate box village, one pub, Bloom of Britain awards, strange indecipherable accents, lots of old men called Cyril…. with a maximum security prison, all concrete and razor wire just a mile away at the end of a heavily fenced road when….SUDDENLY! sirens are wailing and dogs are rushing hither and zither like slobbering, rabid mad things desperate to sink their teeth into an escaping convict’s fleeing arse. Terrifying but exhilarating at the same time. And lot’s to talk about in the local after all the commotion and mayhem over a foaming pint of Bogwater bitter and a packet of ferret scratchings.
Any hoo. Ducklings. Not a sight of any this year. Not a one. Not a sausage. Not that ducklings and sausages are in any way related unless, of course, we’re talking about Farmer Thistlewood’s famous duck and camomile sausages (ducky with a medicinal aftertaste). He also makes a fantastic nettle, ground magpie and blackberry compote. Brilliant with a dollop of Mrs Bethroody’s special recipe caterpillar ice cream.
Any Hoo. Back to ducklings.
I so look forward to the busy little imps darting along the river like yellow whizzy nutjobs. It wasn’t a duckling, but we thought we saw a moorhen chick on Saturday morning but it turned out to be a twig caught in an eddy.
Eddies are peculiar things.
As a child I was lucky to have innumerable siblings and cousins who would gang up on other kids, strangle them slowly with lengths of baler twine before burning them on ceremonial funeral pyres. Sorry. I digress. I had lots of siblings and cousins and my maternal grandmother had a large farm with a wood and a river. We were almost feral, spending every hour of every day building treehuts in the wood or swimming in the river. However, there was a whirlpool (not the washing machine kind) which is a type of eddy, just below a bridge. Older cousins would scare the younger ones with tales of being sucked down by the whirlpool and spat out at the other side of the world (which was upside down of course) and therefore, falling off planet earth to float away, lost forever in time and space.
We never swam below the bridge.
The ducklings are late this year. Perhaps there won’t be any ducklings to be had. By ‘had’ I’m not implying that I hunt down the helpless little creatures for the cooking pot or to smother them liberally with superglue and incorporate them as accents of yellow in a creative decorating scheme, although yellow is a vibrant sunny colour which, used sparingly, can enliven even the darkest corner of a dull north facing room. Red or brown are absolute no-nos and their inclusion in any room set is pure folly. I once painted a study bright red and it resulted in a prolonged stay in a convalescence home, life-long gingerphobia and a fear of saffron threads, benign as both may be.
I am darting from subject to subject like a ditzy duckling.
There is always tomorrow. And the next day. And the day after that. There is still time for lines of ducklings to suddenly appear. Magicked from egg to water. Cuteness personified. I’m glad I live beside a river and not in a red house beside a prison with escaped convicts and sirens and cousins and whirlpools and falling off the world to worry about.