Tickles: Places to Go, Things to Do

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From Jane's World

If you think I like sitting all day, you're wrong! There are things I need to do, places I’d like to go. But sit, sit, sit, 24 hours a day, day after day, is what I’ve been doing.

Ma used to think I slept all night. Hardy-har-har! She’d come out yelling, “Bedtime, everyone!” and usher us up the ramp and into the Duck Hall, closing the little door, locking us in for the night, keeping us safe from harm. Safe from Mr. Wily Coyote, that is!

The minute that door closes, the shuffling begins. And some snapping. I’ll admit when I’m as busy as I have been lately I get ornery. If any of the ducks get too close to me, why, I let them have a few nips of my sharp orange beak. Ma says, “No pecking. No snapping. No bullying.” But when that tiny door puts us in lockdown, let the games begin, I say!

Ma thought she was so darn smart by propping up pieces of plywood against the walls of our shack. She figured it would give the ducks a private place to lay their eggs in peace without The Professor and me pestering them. Oh, we still pester them alright!

We watch them and wait. The minute they lay an egg we're all over them, like Humphrey Bogart over Lauren Bacall. We waddle over, push them out of the way, and get busy rolling the eggs over to our nest. We do this with each egg laid—and let me tell you, these nine ladies keep us Busy, with a capital B. No rest for the wicked! 

The Professor plucks some feathers from all our fine, feathered friends and weaves them into a giant nest for my giant goose butt. She uses her beak and pushes all the chips into a mound on which I can set my derriere. And sit, sit, sit, I do.

When Ma comes in the morning yelping, “Rise and shine!” the ducks are the first to run out. They can’t wait to get away from The Professor and me. Such sissies. They don’t even stick around for the feed Ma puts out for them. They make a beeline for the creek and stay there all day.

Ya know, those eggs of theirs aren’t as precious as they seem to think they are, and I oughta know. I’ve been sitting on the eggs we’ve collected for three and a half weeks straight. Ma was fit to be tied and kept telling me, “Get up! Come on, Tickles girl, you can’t just keep sitting there day after day without going out, eating, or drinking. Please get up, girl.” Knowing Ma, she probably thought we were sitting on our own eggs and wondered why the ducks weren’t laying.

Yesterday she came down to the Duck Hall, all huffy-like, and after she opened the little door to let everyone out, she surprised me and came through the big person's door. Kinda scared me, actually. She marched right up to me in my nest and said, "That’s it, Tickles, you're done sitting. You get up right now and march your lardy behind down the ramp into the sunshine, and go take a bath in the creek. Now! Go!”

Well, nothing doing. I turned my beak the other way. I didn’t even look at her. So she crouched down and had the nerve to take her hands and push me!

“No pushing, no shoving, no bullying!" I squawked. But she wasn’t buying it. Her face was set in stone. She looked serious and she looked mad. She huffed, and I sat. She puffed, and I didn’t ruffle a feather. Then I faked like I was going to clap her with my beak, but she didn’t even flinch. This was a standoff, me against Ma.

Ma pleaded with me, telling me I was going to get sick if I stayed inside and sat on those eggs of mine any longer. She bribed me with lettuce, one of my favorite treats. She tried sweet-talking me. Finally, in desperation, she said, “You are the most stubborn goose in the world,” and with those words, she leaned down, put one hand on either side of me, and picked me up and carried me out the big people's door and set me down in the grass! The nerve!

But, oh, it was warm out there. That sun felt good. I flapped my wings. I shook my tail feathers. I looked up at the sun and blue sky, and took off for the creek. Splash! Oh my my, oh heck yes, there I was, taking a bath!

Meanwhile, I’m quite certain the neighbors could hear Ma swearing up a storm. “What! These aren’t goose eggs—these are duck eggs!” She picked up egg after egg from my nest. She put some in the feed bowl, filled both her jacket pockets, turned up the bottom of her shirt and filled it up, and still there were more eggs than she could hold. I could hear her counting: “One egg, two egg, white egg, blue egg," and when she got to thirty-two, out the large door she came, looking twice her normal size with all those eggs poking out of her.

Turns out that Ma can’t use those eggs for cooking. She said she can’t take a chance that they might have gotten old sitting under me like that for so many days.

Wham, crack! Wham, crack, splat! Ma broke up some of the eggs for that rat terrier—rat terror, I call him—who likes to chase me just for kicks, and for the hound dog who’s always sneaking our feed. Then she cracked more eggs on the fence post and gave them to that pudgy pig, Louisa, and her sidekicks, the two goats. Man, it looked like everyone was getting some of my hard-earned eggs.

Well, so be it. The water feels refreshing. The snow is all gone. I’m done sitting. My belly is hungry and I think it’s spring! Hallelujah, I’ve got places to go and things to do.

Honk, honk!

Originally Published May 3rd, 2018 in the Crawford County Independent & Kickapoo Scout