Party Time

Don Sweetenham


I guess it must be getting close to the annual celebration time in the South and for me and a few dozen other Breakfast Club members and friends it seems to have started off with a grand barbeque on the grounds of the old Miller’s Store on Hwy. 155. This took place on Friday, September 30 and was funded by a prominent member of the club, Doc. Evans, to whom we all owe a big “Thank You.” Robert Bryan did all the cooking and of course the food was outstanding. There were several non-members present as special guests, including the local Sheriff and Deputy. I was introduced to many new faces, some of which may be members who attend the breakfast meetings on days other than Mondays. I apologize for not remembering their names, but the first thing I lost when I came to be old, was my memory. I just can’t help it – the first thing I do in the morning, when I get up, is to check my I.D. just to see what my name is. It had to happen some time I suppose. Anyway, I try to be at the Club every Monday, at 5:00 a.m. That way I can be pretty sure that I remember the names of all those attending. But one day a week is about all my old frame will stand. And the ducks know that their breakfast will be served just a little bit later on Mondays. Well, it sure was a great day at the Store and the Master of Ceremonies, Her-man, oversaw the whole affair.

There, I did it. You knew I couldn’t write anything for the Times without bringing the ducks of Swan Lake into the picture, didn’t you?

Now that Fall has, apparently, arrived perhaps the weather pattern will soon settle down a little. As much as I like warm weather, that merciless heat we have had for the last few weeks has really been a bit too much. Not just for me but for the wildlife, too. The ducks couldn’t decide at what time I should serve their meal and on a couple of occasions I’m fairly sure they missed out. I threw the dog food out but nobody appeared out of the bushes to collect it. Now, for the last couple of days there has been no shortage of hungry customers when I exit the storage shed with the feed bucket and scoop in my hands. One big old male Muscovy is my guard duck and he waddles alongside me (also “waddling”) as we approach the water. We “Shoo!” all the other ducks back into the water while I throw out the food into the lake. Then we turn back towards the shed and I drop the remaining half scoop of food on the pathway for the big guy’s breakfast. I feel a lot better about it when I know that they have all had a chance to get something to eat. I’m pretty sure that they would survive, anyhow, if I didn’t feed them but many of them were hatched and raised in the bushes of my back yard and I suppose that makes me feel more responsible for them. In any event, I love them all and I’ll do whatever is possible for me to do to make life easier for them.

Now I have a puzzle for you. One day last week, around mid-morning, I happened to be passing by the glass door to the sunroom and my glance was drawn toward the center of the lake. My eyesight not being as sharp as it used to be I couldn’t quite make out the details of, what looked to be, a floating blanket of kelp. Having lived in the Caribbean for a few years and owned several boats, I was aware of floating beds of kelp and tales of the Sargasso Sea but in Swan Lake? Come on, now! With my interest now aroused, I walked through the sun-room to the small deck at the top of the steps. After studying the anomaly for a few minutes, I figured it must be a large gathering of small, brown ducks. There must have been well over 200 birds in that flock and then, just to add to the fun, I saw another, similar sized crowd, about 100 yards further away from the first. I’ve never seen so many small, brown ducks together before. They certainly weren’t Mallards, Coots or Muskovies and they didn’t stay very long. Perhaps they were just on a quick stop-over on some long-distance trip. A few hours later and they were gone. To where? Nobody knows. So if you do know, please clue me in. I would really appreciate it.

Well, that’s it for me again. ‘Till next time ...

D.J. Sweetenham, originally from England, is the author of Bumps in the Road and Bumps in the Road - Part Two, highlights of his interesting and far-flung life. D.J., his wife, and their small dog, live in Stockbridge.