This morning while jogging through the park I was pleased to see Mallory Mallard and her seven ducklings skimming across the pond. The little ones are no longer little, rivaling their mother in stature. Before I knew it she had hopped out of the water, obediently followed by her kids, and the whole group portaged in single file along the footpath and reentered the pond at a point beyond two small waterfalls. Their majestic attitude was a treat for those of us present; alas, I didn’t have a camera or smart phone with me to record the parade.
But then I did a double-take as I noticed two more ducks still swimming on the upper part of the park’s pond. Who could these be, I wondered. I was soon to learn as the larger of the two popped out of the water and approached me.
“Excuse me,” he said, “but I wonder if you can help me. I understand, and appreciate, that you were most helpful with my daughter Mallory earlier this summer when she sought information on public photos of the children. My name is Malcolm Mallard and my wife over there is Malvina, we are the grandparents”. I mentioned that the names sounded familiar and he confirmed that two of Mallory’s ducklings were named for them. “There are only so many names that begin with Mal so we tend to reuse them every few generations”.
“You are indeed a lucky duck to have such a fine group of grand-kids,” I said. “They have been a real hit with park visitors all summer.”
“Drake” he said.
“Sorry?” I replied.
“I believe you mean I am a lucky drake,” he repeated. “My wife and daughter are ducks, I’m a drake, a male. It’s simple really. And please don’t bring up the Donald and Daffy misuses of duck. We’ve been in court for years over those; to say nothing of the speech impediments. Why must one have a substantial lisp while the other squawks like a drooling moron?”
“Gotcha,” I said. Quickly changing subjects I asked “How may I be of assistance to you?”
With this he produced from his inside wing pocket a pair of reading glasses that he balanced on his beak and a smart phone into which he quacked. Almost immediately the phone quacked back. Noticing I was impressed by this he explained to me that duck feathers don’t allow for accurate and effective keypad use, so the duck version of Siri is essential.
He told me that he had recently retired from his job with a very large company in the shipping industry, Canard Lines. I mentioned he may have meant Cunard Lines, but he said he knew what he was talking about.
He explained that he and his wife were here to help Mallory get things ready for the upcoming flight south for the winter. His son-in-law, Mallory’s husband and father to the brood, has already flown on ahead to secure a place for the family. Hopefully this will be near a golf course as Malcolm enjoys the calm ponds and little sandy beaches, finding them not to be hazards at all. He also admitted he does get a kick out of moving golf balls that are in play, but only in a positive way. “There’s more than a few ‘Hole-in-One’ trophies out there that should rightfully be on my bookshelf,” he said with a wink. I mentioned that even if it is a ‘positive’ move of the ball, it still isn’t fair. He just said he’s never had any complaints from golfers discovering their ball in the cup. If he does, he promises he will stop doing it.
He asked me “In what direction is Brome Lake from here?”
“I would say south-east,” I replied. “As the crow flies that is.”
Malcolm looked up at me over his reading glasses, rolled his eyes and shook his head in much the same way Mallory had done when she found something I had said to be silly. “I read your blog, you can do better than that,” he stated. Returning his gaze to his smart phone he started tut-tutting.
“That won’t do at all,” he said. “This route takes us directly south-east. I’m going to have to make a few adjustments.”
“Why is that?”
He looked at me as if I was a complete cretin and explained something I in fact knew, but had forgotten all about. Brome Lake Duck is a delicacy sold worldwide he pointed out. For a family of ducks to fly over the lake and processing plant would be irresponsible, a foolish tempting of fate. To say nothing of the thousands of captive ducks thinking they were to be liberated only to have that glimmer of hope dashed. No, he would lead the family on a detour, starting off in a south-west direction then drifting back to the original route once the danger was passed.
“Fascinating’” I said. “Well thought out. Now that the kids are grown and can fly, Mallory won’t have to strap that multi-passenger car seat contraption she used when the kids were small.”
“Thank you for reminding me,” Malcolm said. “I need to list that thing on Kijiji. If we can’t sell it before we leave, can we name you as the contact person and leave it with you?”
What could I say?