Duck Duck! Quack Quack!

It was a glorious snowy day. Snow had fallen through the night before, surprising the children of the farm with a glistening white wonderland as they peered out frosty windows that bright morn. Their day started early, for on the farm they had chores to do before school. The family had always risen with or before the sun, and enjoyed watching the sunlight slowly changing the dimness of dawn into day, the bright rays finally bursting over the mountains and across the valley. A beautiful, meditative time when the animals were stirring and roosters began crowing a glad good morning.

The children were fondly known as Mr. Boots and Horsey Girl to their Nana, who had special love names for all her grands. Nana, and Papa, too, were always charmed, and often amazed at the adventures Judson and Lee told them their two darling children had daily, working, playing, exploring and growing up on their farm. Adventure was just a step out their door, planned and expected, by surprise, or invented.

The farm sat on a high plateau above a long valley in an area that had not been overdeveloped as yet. Although, as more families desired the open spaces of the country, homes were popping up closer and closer to this farm’s oasis. Planning to live there for many years to come, Judson and Lee decided to keep their land private by design. Great berms of dirt were built surrounding their large acreage, with plans to grow native grasses, trees and an orchard to bring contour to the otherwise mostly flat land. What great fun this brought to Mr. Boots, Horsey Girl and their friends! In an instant sledding hills, mountain bike trails, and mud slogging were accessible right out their door. Each day brought new possibilities. And today the sleds came out.

Breakfast, chores and schoolwork finished, Mr. Boots and Horsey girl dashed up the berms again and again to slide down with glee, almost all the way to the horse pasture. The neighbor friends from across the street had joined them, happy laughter ringing in the air as they swooshed by each other to see who could slide the farthest. Ducks and geese quacked and honked overhead, some still migrating to warmer areas south, some staying local in the area. The farmland surrounding them offered prime feeding spots for birds. Untilled land grew wild sagebrush that looked like squat clumpy bushes draped in snowy shawls covering the gently rolling land of the plateau. It was wide open and free, with a beautiful view of the sky and surrounding mountains. The children sledded til chore-time came again, dinner and early winter darkness. Tumbling into bed, dreams came quickly of their joy-filled day.

Saturday morning dawned with the sounds of raindrops pounding on the roof. Not surprised by the quick change in Idaho weather, the family trudged out in the rain and slush to tend their animals. The beautiful snow of yesterday was quickly melting and rivulets of water were running down the berms. Puddles formed here and there, an especially big one where the round pen had previously been, the ground lower there from horses and mules walking the soft earth. Several ducks splashed and paddled about, completely at home in the wet weather. Mr. Boots and Horsey Girl gave each other that knowing look . . . if ducks could play, so could they! After a hot breakfast of oats, blueberries, and almond milk, out the two went, sledding discs becoming . . . CANOES!

It was amazing how fast the puddle had grown in size and depth that morning. The ducks were a bit skittish as the children launched their crafts into the almost pond, deep enough it was for the children to float in their boats. “Quack Quack! Quack Quack!” the ducks jabbered as the children pushed their sled-boats with stout sticks they used for oars. And soon a parade began, the ducks in front with the children pushing to catch up with them. “Duck Duck!” called the canoers. “Quack Quack! answered the ducks as the parade went around and around. It became a hilarious game, for the ducks kept quacking as the children kept paddling after them.

“Oh, what a grand day you’ve had!” crooned Nana over the phone as Lee and the children called to report this most amazing adventure! Papa and Nana had a good laugh imagining the Mr. Boots-Horsey Girl-duck-canoe parade that lasted, they were told, til the ducks got tired of parading and flew off to forage for food and rest. And just in time for two soaking wet canoers to head inside for soup, hot chocolate and dry clothes. Life was like this on the farm. Unexpected and fun friendships were forged between animals and humans, as were new delightful things to do. Just like this snowy-turned-slushy rainy-day newfangled game they would forever remember as “Duck Duck! Quack Quack!”

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