Drowning a dragon

I had one of those coughs that made your toenails rattle and, after a morning of listening to my hacking, a co-worker gave me the evil eye. “That sounds like a smoker’s cough,” he said.

“I’ve never smoked a cigarette in my life,” I said.

Story_squareBut I had to take it back. There was this one time

My father was a smoker for many years and, at age 6, I approached him after supper one evening. He was sitting at the dining room table with a cigarette in one hand, white smoke drifting like a lazy river toward the ceiling, and a glass ashtray before him.

“Would you like a puff?” He gestured to me.

Yes, I would. I scooted up to him, excited to share this special moment with him. I lifted the white tube to my lips and took a long pull on the cigarette.

Dragon’s breath first roasted my tonsils before descending with white heat down my throat. My lungs were instantly seared and my stomach rolled with burning coals.

The scalding smoke slammed into my eyes and my nose filled with a smell of dead mice and scorched banana peels.

Even my toenails curled with the heat.

Certain that my life was about to end, I spun and ran as fast as toasted legs could carry me into the kitchen. I stuck my head under the cold water faucet and tried to drown myself.

What else can you do when a dragon has unleashed its flames?

I survived, undoubtedly due to my quick thinking in rushing to the kitchen sink.

And, as the rushing water sluiced into my mouth dousing the fire, I had one single thought: one swallow of the dragon’s breath was more than enough for me.

Those eyes

I’ve heard of husband eyes but hadn’t really experienced kid eyes until the Christmas tree deal.

This eyes thing shows up when someone is sent to a location to look for something and they can’t find it.

Story_squareMy older son, who is now a husband himself, tells me that his wife accuses him of that. This came up after he went looking for a box in a storage room.

“It’s not there,” he told me when he came back. “Although I’m told I have husband eyes so you might want to look.”

I found the box.

But it’s not just the guys.  Our youngest daughter came home from school to ask, “When did you take the Christmas tree down?”

“Three weeks ago,” I said.

“No way.”

Yup. So she pulled her younger brother away from alien attacks in the computer room. “When did Mom take down the Christmas tree?”

He looked up, his eyes wide. “The Christmas tree is down?”

They waited until their father got home to verify this amazing discovery. “Dad, did you notice that Mom took the Christmas tree down?”

He met both their faces with a calm smile and patted our daughter on the shoulder. “Did I notice?” He grinned at them both with that confident look that fathers get when they know the answer. “Did I notice? No.”

Family eyes. They all have it.

Duck Mama

I’m all for devoted mothers but this was special. Mama Bear kind of special.

We live on a hobby farm and at one time had a brace of Moscovy ducks. I had to look this up but did you know that a group of ducks can be called a brace, badelynge, bunch or a flock?

Story_squareWhile we’re discussing names, a male duck is a drake and a female duck is a …. duck.

The females are blessed with the job of keeping the eggs warm for a month while staring at the blank wall of a barn that never talks back but they don’t even get a special name. That seems wrong, somehow.

Our ducks were wonderful mothers. If you’ve read Make Way for Ducklings you have the right idea. If you haven’t, go read it. It’s short.

One day we stumbled onto a nest of eggs. Maybe this was a whole brace of eggs. I’m not sure. I’m talking dozens. I’m talking a sea of white orbs. I’m talking Egg Mountain.

We couldn’t count them all.

We couldn’t count them all partly because there were two ducks sitting on them. Yeah, weird.

At least they had someone to talk to while waiting for the coming ducklings.

Twenty-one ducklings hatched.

But there aren’t DNA tests for ducklings (well, not on our farm for sure) and we had two ducks with all these babies. Who belonged to whom?

Neither mama was giving up the babies so they worked together. Both lead the way with a long winding line of yellow fuzzy ducklings waddling behind. Twenty-one ducklings makes a long line.

We added more than a bunch to our duck flock. We’d collected a whole badelynge.

Don’t you think those mamas deserved a more amazing name than duck?