– Tai Tapu, Christchurch

Everything is OK, Mrs Duck is back……
After several large and hundreds of small earthquakes, a ruined house, and many sleepless nights, it is good to reflect upon how many of us have handled this first introduction to a civil emergency. I think we passed the test, and whilst I would be loathe to go through it all again, at least I know that we were unphased by no water, electricity or sewerage, and that we can make a good fist of it.

Before the earthquake we had a lovely fish pond – very large fishpond actually more a lake, laden with gorgeous pink and white water lilies which were just beginning to poke up their heads out of the water. Mr and Mrs Duck lived on the lake, and had been very very very busy making babies for weeks before the 4th September. It was quite a sport watching them perform. I felt rather pervy, but I simply couldn’t resist watching the ducks bobbing their heads in and out of the water in a lovely dance of courtship prior to the rather noisy, splashy and I must say, rather fast finale during which I was quite sure that Mrs Duck would not survive. But survive she did every time, reappearing from her underwater position to fluff and preen herself elaborately. We were waiting for the dear little ducklings to arrive but all they seemed to do was practice.

Once the 4th September arrived and the lake disappeared from sight, Mr and Mrs Duck had nowhere to go. We assumed that they lost their brood. They had no food, and were probably traumatised so they decided that we were the next best thing. They paddled around the house looking for tidbits. Mrs Duck was the brave one who knocked on the glass doors with her beak when we did not respond quickly enough.

Then after a while they disappeared as well, and we assumed they had met a terrible end. The fantails disappeared also from all over Christchurch.

Then last week, a joyous moment. Mrs Duck appeared with 5 rather large teenage looking ducklings waddling around behind her. She marched straight up to the door, and finding it open marched them right inside. I assume she was proudly showing us her children. Unfortunately the cat did not know this, and he shot out through his cat door – he was horizontal from the moment they entered the house. He shot out, then in again, then out again.

The cat door flapped and banged with each coming and going which frightened Mrs Duck who ushered her children back to the doorway and outside to safety. Unfortunately she was unable to find the doorway but instead banged into the shut side of the glass door.

And then she panicked.

She tried again, but couldn’t get through. The kids were calling and crying. She became frantic, so she hammered at the glass. Her webbed feet got wheel spin on the Italian marble tiles beneath her so she flapped her wings in an attempt to become airborne off this slippery floor. Ducks and flying don’t exactly gel that well. I guess the sheer fright produced a shower of duck poo which flew across the room, went underneath the glass table and stuck to the underside, flew across the floor and up the walls all aided by the flapping wings which helped to distribute it liberally around the room. And then she found the gap and scarpered with her brood, never to be seen again.

Duck poo is disgusting to clean up.

But it was SO lovely to see her alive and thriving with her babes. We wonder where Mr Duck was, but then he was never as brave as her, so he could easily have been watching her from afar, smirking.

And the fantails are back. So perhaps they all know something we do not.

Everything is OK, I thought, Mrs Duck is back.

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