It was the 19th of October, Yorktown Day (for any of you history buffs out there). I was pregnant with my ninth child, entering my seventh month. Since I had already experienced numerous pregnancies, just picture me with a belly of an elephant pregnant in the, oh, let’s say 16th month.
David was leading a mission trip in Argentina and I was at home holding down the fort – we lived in a house in Seaford, VA on the water, Chisman Creek. We had just celebrated Caleb’s third birthday the day before. It was a beautiful, sunny day and I decided we should eat our leftover slices of chocolate on chocolate cake outside. It would be nice to soak up the rays of the fall sun and enjoy the late afternoon shimmer of the water with the many creatures surrounding our house.
The previous spring, our neighbors had purchased baby ducklings. By now, these little baby ducks had grown into full-fledged fowl. The big, white, Aflec TV commercial ducks, not the typical yes-please-come-float-in-my-backyard kind of ducks. They were largely neglected by their “owners” and were beginning to try to forage for their own food.
I had just set three slices of cake down on the kiddie picnic table for me, myself and I – just kidding; for Caleb and Joshua too. At the same moment, out of the corner of my eye I saw a flutter of white moving swimmingly our way. In perfect uniformed formation (this should have been a sign of foreshadowing for me) of a point man in front, two flanked on the side and the fourth completing the diamond shape by bringing up the rear, they approached.
I decided to just shoo them away with a gesture of my hands which usually worked. There was a small retreat of all four gliding backwards in formation upon my hand waving. But then, I saw it, it was the tiniest flicker in point duck’s eye, a challenge . His desire for the chocolate crumbs wafting through the air and into his beak was just too much to bear. Without falling out of order, they approached again, at this point easily three feet from us.
I turned, faced them head-on and shouted, ” I said shoo! This cake isn’t for you! It is our cake, now shoo !” They didn’t move, not even a flinch or side bob of their heads as if confused. Eight beady eyes stared straight back at me.
At this point, my almost six-year-old’s voice cut through the tension and he reasoned, “I don’t think this is going to work today. They don’t seem happy with us eating out here Mommy. Let’s go inside.”
“I think you are right, Joshua, let’s go in,” I conceded. Why, oh why I thought I needed to pick up the cake will always remain a mystery. Shortage of flour? I was faint and needed the sugar? The best cake ever? One will never know, but it was our cake and I was taking it with me.
I was balancing the three plates in my hands and the boys pulled their legs from the table when the neatly organized army approached closer, two feet away. “Get behind me, boys. They are angry! We need to get inside!” I bellowed. Point man was ready for attack. He had taken advantage of high tide, floated onto the bulkhead and was standing his ground. Fearing for the boys, but holding onto my cake with a tight grip, I stared him in the eye and ordered, “Go! You get out of here! Leave! Go on!”
He then raised his not-so-tiny white wings in the air, stood up on his orange web feet and assumed the position of Ralph Macchio’s famous crane kick in Karate Kid. All sense of reasonable thinking left me; I shifted to panic mode; he was after me now; it was personal. The duck began chasing me in a full-on sprint. I was way past waddle when at around 150 feet as I was ducking to dodge the low branch of an oncoming tree, I fell. I slid on my left side, arm outstretched above my head, body like a perfect arrow, straight into a home plate that would have made any coach proud.
What did the duck do when I fell? What did David do to the duck when he got home? And above all, what happened to the cake? Stay tuned.
Disclaimer: no humans or ducks were seriously injured in the making of this story.