The kids had their last swim practice of the week yesterday, and we decided to celebrate the arrival of the weekend and summer by roasting hot dogs and marshmallows over the fire in the garden. We sat there, lazing around, trying to keep the dog from eating the hot dogs and watching the flowers (the daylily started blooming yesterday) and the birds (we have goldfinches now), and I read my lovely new book* and the kids rode around in the grass on their bicycles.
And then there was a yell and Davy came running toward me babbling about a baby goose or duck. In his hand was a duckling, a blue-winged teal probably, based on the other ones we’ve found and raised over the years. We searched the area where Davy found it, but no other babies, or eggs, or any sign of a nest. We checked all of the other duck nests in the yard we know of (there’s a reason we don’t mow our grass for most of the summer), and no sign of any other babies. And then another duckling emerged, skittering across the concrete pad in front of the garage. Mystifying. So know we have Jack and Quack in a box in the kitchen, cheeping away. It doesn’t seem to be summer around here without birds in a box in the kitchen. We’ll raise them, as we’ve raised other orphans we’ve found, though usually we’ve had to hatch them first, and then release them before fall to make the annual flight with their brothers, sisters, and cousins.
by Christopher Pearse Cranch (1813-1892)
One day in the bluest of summer weather,
Sketching under a whispering oak,
I heard five bobolinks laughing together
Over some ornithological joke.
What the fun was I couldn’t discover.
Language of birds is a riddle on earth.
What could they find in whiteweed and clover
To split their sides with such musical mirth?
Was it some prank of the prodigal summer,
Face in the cloud or voice in the breeze,
Querulous catbird, woodpecker drummer,
Cawing of crows high over the trees?
Was it some chipmunk’s chatter, or weasel
Under the stone-wall stealthy and sly?
Or was the joke about me at my easel,
Trying to catch the tints of the sky?
Still they flew tipsily, shaking all over,
Bubbling with jollity, brimful of glee,
While I sat listening deep in the clover,
Wondering what their jargon could be.
‘Twas but the voice of a morning the brightest
That ever dawned over yon shadowy hills;
‘Twas but the song of all joy that is lightest,–
Sunshine breaking in laughter and trills.
Vain to conjecture the words they are singing;
Only by tones can we follow the tune
In the full heart of the summer fields ringing,
Ringing the rhythmical gladness of June!
Sherry at Semicolon is hosting today’s Poetry Friday round-up, a dandy way to celebrate summer’s arrival, with or without ducklings. Thanks for rounding up, Sherry, and also for that peek at your family’s beautiful poetry book.
* There are about 100 copies left at Bookcloseouts, at $1.99 each. Highly recommended at twice the price.