The Saturday Writing Challenge (January 14th) was to Step Outside of Yourself and write about “being someone else”. I took a few liberties with the challenge and decided to write about “being something else”.
Flying South for the Winter.
My friends and I are flying south again this winter. Canada is too cold for us to raise our young ducklings during the winter months and there are several members of our dopping sord (flock) that want to start a family this year. Right now we are high above the central part of the U.S. headed for the thick marsh lands of southern Louisiana. My name is Henrietta. I am a female mallard duck and I was actually hatched in Louisiana many years ago so I know without a doubt that this is a great place to raise ducklings.
It’s almost time for me to take the lead in our flight formation and I’m not looking forward to it. I like flying in the third position on the left side of our V formation. Most of the cold prevailing winds blow out of the northwest and the third position on the left side is blocked from the cold winds by the right side formation. The upward air current created in this spot also makes flying easier on my old wings. This will be my last time to take the lead during one of our southern migration trips. I’m getting pretty old for a duck and this is my last trip, I’m not going back, it’s time to retire. The flock actually likes it when I’m in charge of our southern migrations because I’ve made this trip more often than the other drakes and hens and we don’t have to stop as often. I also know the safest places to stop when we do have to stop along the way to feed and rest. In other words I know where the hunters don’t usually hunt and for some reason the hunters always know when we travel.
I’ve lost many friends over the years before I learned that some places just aren’t safe. Yesterday I had to explain to my friend Tillie why we couldn’t stop at that beautiful creek in Missouri that had a large school of visible minnows swimming in its clear running water. It just wasn’t a safe place. It’s the place where I lost two of my best friends, Don and Ping. They were brothers. Don was the handsomer of the two drakes. Sometimes late at night the emerald green of his handsome face will drift into my dreams and I smile as I remember how much I loved watching him strut as we built our first nest together. It happened many years ago when we stopped to rest and feed at that very same beautiful creek in Missouri.
The creek had a thick brush line overhanging its banks that would make a safe hiding place if danger should approach. The minnows were plentiful enough to feed us all and there was an abundance of zigzagging water bugs to snack on if you could catch them. We were all lazily feeding and preening in the warm fall sun and creek water one afternoon when we heard the footsteps of the hunters. Don and Ping were in charge of our sord and they rushed us all underneath the overhanging bushes out of sight. We were safe as long as we were quiet but one of our young hens sneezed. This slight muffled quack was all it took to alert the hunters to our whereabouts. Don and Ping knew we were in trouble and the two of them swam down stream from the rest of us as fast as they could swim making lots of loud quacking noises as they splashed and flapped their wings in the water. Still quacking as loud as they could they flew straight up out of the water into the air at break neck speed completely capturing all of the hunter’s attention. Bam! Bam! It was the last time I saw Don or Ping. The rest of us completed that fall migration journey safely and without further incident. Some places just aren’t safe and through the years I’ve learned to avoid the dangerous spots.
This is my last time to fly south for the winter, my migration days are ending but not my memories. Darn! They just called my name. It’s my turn to take the lead.