Fowl play in foul weather…

I took a few very chilly walks this week…brrr…but always worth it. The first was on a rail trail where I strolled from Massachusetts into Connecticut and got obsessed with taking photos of these beautiful barns.

Ducks have been on my mind as I read Eckhart Tolle’s description about how they are able to squabble and squawk at each other, then turn, flap their wings a few times and swim elegantly away without ruffled feathers. He recommends that we do this too. Let the emotions roll over you and then flap your wings, throw them off and get back to the business of living in the now. He does not advise reliving, revamping, or re-saying what it is you should, could, or would have said or done, but just let it go. On my walks there was a plethora of ducks to illustrate his point.

I took a sojourn to Stanley Park in Westfield, MA. It must be a lovely park when it’s not zero degrees. They have a special bronze duck, named Ozzie, on a little island in the middle of a pond. A few years back the real Ozzie was killed by a teenage boy stomping him to death. The town kids brought in their pennies to fund a campaign for a memorial for the murdered Ozzie.

As I came up the hill there arose a cacophony of squawks and duck calls (they sounded eerily like the ones my mother would practice for duck hunting) that stopped me in my tracks. The pond was FILLED with beautiful, iridescent male and female ducks and a white swan.

Let me explain my hesitation…I have been snapped at by nasty geese and chased by trumpet swans. A few years ago, unbeknownst to me, I walked near a couple of nesting swans and let me tell you, they are huge, beautiful and terrifying when they are mad. Wings out and slapping the water, with necks that stretch straight at you, they pursued me as I ran away as fast as I could. I will always remember that narrow escape with nervous laughter. So as soon as I heard the din and cackle of fowl noises my fight or flight response kicked in and I thought twice about going forward.

Thankfully there was only one swan and she/he didn’t seem to be nesting and the whole pond was welcoming me with open, clacking beaks fully expecting a handout. As I forged ahead, they calmed down and decided to leave me be since I did not come bearing gifts like the Magi. I was just another shepherd coming to gaze at the scene without even the poorest offering. I saw Ozzie’s burial island with many ducks perched around him keeping him company. I had a Lord-of-the-Flies moment of horror at the idea of a gang of boys taunting and killing an innocent duck. I am glad that they have honored the outpouring of rage against a senseless act of unkindness.

Stanley Park, MA

Stanley Park, MA

The collected pennies for Ozzie brings to mind the play I am in at the moment where I perform the role of a mother of a coma patient. Every time my character arrives at the critical care facility to visit her daughter, I place a head’s up penny on the floor by the bed to bring good luck into the room. Pennies have been a simple reminder of good fortune for a long time. I hear that we may do away with them altogether as they are not worth enough in our currency to bother printing them. But for the many reminders of simple, priceless good will, I hope they stick around.

Two songs came to the forefront this week. I wish I had the DJ skill to mash them together…I think it might come out quite magical.

The duck was dancing by the water, quack, quack, quack                                                                                The rhythm made him think he oughta quack, quack                                                                                        He was dancing to the samba, the samba, the samba                                                                                       Oh, goose, oh.

This little penny is to wish on                                                                                                                              And make your wishes come true                                                                                                                         This little penny is to dream on                                                                                                                       Dream of all you can do

The goose was gaining passing by, honk, honk, honk                                                                                        He stopped and gave the dance a try, honk, honk                                                                                              He was dancing to the samba                                                                                                                                The new thing.

This little penny is a dancing penny                                                                                                                      See how it glitters and it glows                                                                                                                            Bright as a whistle, light as a thistle                                                                                                                 Quick, quick as a wink up on it’s twinkling toes

Then a lovely swan swam by, in all her majesty, and she loosened up.                                                 Hoochy-coochy-coo did that swan.                                                                                                                       She joined the duck and goose and did the samba too.                                                                                    You should have seen the kind of samba she could do.

This little penny is to laugh on                                                                                                                               To see that tears never fall

They did the samba so long, they all fell right in the water.                                                                           While they were singing away,                                                                                                                           quack quack quack, quack quack quack

This little penny is the last little penny                                                                                                            Most important of all, for this penny is to love on                                                                                           And where love is, heaven is there                                                                                                                          So with just five pennies, if they’re these five pennies                                                                                     You’ll be a millionaire

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mq27GXKM-yg (Danny Kaye- “5 Little Pennies”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k-AS7dpGuH8 (Karrin Allyson- “O Pato”)

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