The Voices of Spencer Creek Valley
Spencer Creek Journal
A friendly ghost story in memory of Godzilla, a rare bird who gave
As the Wild Ones fly south overhead, I remember . . .
A Duck's Life
By M. G. Hudson
Godzilla the Duck
I came into this world as an egg. I remember warmth and soft reds.
One day I had the energy to peck and break through. I saw a big bill moving towards
me. A big bright eye. Golden.I learned this was my mother. There were others with
me, little wet creatures, just like me. I learned they were my brothers and sisters.
Mother said we were ducks and would learn to hunt bugs and slugs and to swim.
She rubbed her bill over her oil glands and carefully applied her oil to our
immature feathers to keep us warm. Soon we followed Mother to the water, a wild place
running to the sea. Shade from trees, flashing fins, little larvae, clouds under
me, I paddled after her feathers.
"Now, dearest duckkins, remember to swim right here, under the vine maple and
willows. Never swim far with the current or you will soon be very far away."
Yes, Mother, we quacked, noticing our special place.
A giant webless foot with a featherless face feed us grains. Big black boots
and a strange voice came, too. But it was kindly. Mother said, "Be not afraid.
It is the grainfeeder."
Mother showed us how to hunt and to find tiny fresh shoots just like the Wild Ones,
our migrating cousins. Little sweet slugs were my favorite. We dove under waters,
in puddles and around leaves looking, always looking.
When the golden sun flew to its nest, Mother led us to the duck house where we were
safe from the raccoons and owls. Overhead Wild Ones flew west to the sea. "Wait
for me! Wait for me!" I honked.
Mother laugh-quacked, " Dear duckkins, they are the Wild Ones . It is their
instinct to fly and ours to stay."
We were happy. At night we rested under Mother's wings. She told us stories,
clucking gently. Stories about the Great Duck and the biggest water -- the sea, high
land called mountains, and "the duckkins who honked coyote". My favorite
one was about my father. He was a handsome drake who came every first-flower time
from the south. He always brought Mother a bit of wild rice in his bill from far
beyond the mountains.Then he followed his flock while she stayed here, this place
of meadows and forests. My dreams followed him. Someday I would fly like my wild
father and cousins. Someday I would fly through the clouds instead of only swimming
through their reflection on the water.
One day, a strange featherless face cooed at us. Mother knew what this meant.
She said,"My darling duckkins, it is now time for us to part. You must go to
other duck houses. Now, now... be brave, my ducklings. Remember, hunt well, swim
well, hide from bad ones who would eat you. Girls, someday you will lay eggs. Share
some with your grainfeeders. Raise some to be your duckkins. Teach them as I have
taught you. Be a credit to your feathers. And never forget, you are a Campbell and
a Wild Wood duck. The best of both duck worlds... Good bye,goodbye!" she clucked
I was sad to leave but also eager for adventures. I was whisked away into a box with
holes. Then Sister was there so I didn't feel so bad. A lid came over us. As we were
carried, I heard Mother call, "Be brave. I will always love you. Take care of
your feathers!" I answered , "Goodbye, goodbye!" A horrible noise,
loud slamming and we were off to a new life.
We found ourselves in a small cozy duck house. Lots of fresh cut hay, no ramp.
Sister and I made a nest by ourselves.We quacked ourselves to sleep. After a long
while, the grainfeeders lifted us us out. We explored the garden. What a delight!
Amidst the growing plants, there was a feast of slugs and bugs. After a little while,
we ventured farther afield. There was a big long meadow with tall grass pocked by
thousands of tiny rain ponds. I saw clouds reflected in the grass. Thousands of frogs
sang. I tried to eat a tiny green frog but he yelled and hopped out of my bill.
Far to the south east beyond a dangerous, feather tearing fence were cows and horses.
(The big heron told us what they were.) They called friendly greetings but kept to
themselves most of the time. At the bottom of the long broad meadow grew shady green
trees over the running water, running to the sea. Beyond, the meadow rose up to the
hills, feathered thickly with forests where the raccoons, owls and coyotes lived.
Sister had sprained her foot and we were returning slowly to the duck house. The
sun glided low over the hills and a honking such as I never heard before filled the
air. The sky slowly filled with wild wood ducks. Their calls and replies thrilled
me. They landed to feed and visit. Sister introduced us. We learned some were on
the great route and some lived in the forests above. Soon Sister and I had new friends.
They came often then. I asked about my father but no one knew him. We listened to
their tales and I dreamed of flying with them someday. Maybe I would meet my father,
visit Mother or see the sea.
There was a day when the first flowers were unfolding and very good little
slugs were hatching. At dusk, the wild ducks came to feed and visit as they often
did. This evening a migrating male was with them. Sister quacked and giggled and
wiggled. I went on feeding, searching for tender shoots and tasty bugs and slugs.
This young male was handsome and well-mannered, letting Sister sieve and search a
tiny pond with her bill before he did. His name was High Lake. He came back day after
day. Soon a moon had come and gone and our grain-feeders began to coax High Lake
to grain with us. One night we asked him to stay with us in the duck house. He accepted.
Life had new interest for us. I paid more attention to my feathers, egg-laying,
the kinds of rain, the winds and scents from the sea, and the far away stars slowly
flying between the racing clouds. Coyotes called . Frogs sang. We were not afraid.
We all had each other.
We nestled in the duck house and made extra eggs. Sister and I hide four eggs and
tended them to maturity. On a cool day with a warm wind, the miracle happened. The
eggs moved, a tapping within. The shells broke open and there were our duckkins!
Soon we had four scrawny quackers! In a few days they followed us to the wild water.We
taught them to swim and to find food. And to hide from those who would eat us. I
tried to remember all my mother taught us and so teach our little ones.
The Wild Ones came to say hello to our duckkins and compare their duckkins
to ours. Some drakes teased High Lake about being "domesticated". He ignored
them and was a good mate and father. But late at night when the hunting owls winged
through the meadow and far above, the clouds raced in from the sea, he heard the
Wild Ones flying and honking. He honked in return, "I haven't forgotten the
ways of the flock. I can still fly. Remember me!"
I quacked nothing. I kept these things in my heart and our duckkins under my wing.
When the air was full of cherry blossom petals and the rains became soft and
warm, a strange furless face came and cooed over our little ones.
"How odd these grain-feeding egg stealers are," remarked High Lake. "They
don't even have a proper bill. How do they ever eat?"
But Sister and I knew what was about to happen. We quacked with concern and gave
the duckkins their last lesson." ...And remember, you're a Campbell and a Wild
Wood duck, the best of both duck worlds. Good bye, goodbye!"
My littlest one, Dink, cried out, "Mommy!" as he was scooped up and put
in a box.
"Be brave. I will always love you. Take care of your feathers!" I quacked
backed, just as my Mother quacked to me.
About the grainfeeders, we know very little about them although they are an
important part of our lives. We learned some of their quacks but as a family flock,
we never quite trusted them. I guess the egg-taking during the longer, warmer days
was something I tolerated. Maybe because I was grateful for a safe duck house or
maybe warm mash on freezing days. Or maybe I liked the kind praise in our main grainfeeder's
One day when the sun was long in the lake of the sky, I hurt my leg. It began to
swell and feel very hot. I hopped along. Soon I became very ill. My grainfeeder took
me from my house and brought me into her house. It was very strange. She forced some
vile potion down my bill and wrapped me in warm thick cloth. I was too weak to argue
Many days came and went. Slowly I began to heal. She and I became friendly and she
told me many things I didn't understand. But I realized she was a creature like myself
in some ways and I began to appreciate her attentions.
A terrible thing happened during the cold dormant time when the grain feeders
strung lights outside and made strange wailing quacks together. Monstrous machines
with grainfeeders came and ate the forest beyond the meadow. What terrible noises,
smells and sights.It went on for days and days.
I saw the rabbits and deer, coyotes, raccoons and mice flee. (I didn't miss the owl
but I knew he was treeless.) Most of the Feathered Ones left, small flocks of wrens,
quail, woodpeckers and goshawks. Most of the wood ducks left."Wait! Wait! Take
me with you!" I flap my wings uselessly.
Why did the machines do this? Why? Now if they are hungry again, they will find nothing
to eat here.
Soon the rains began again. We go to the water. It is very muddy. Later I wait for
the little finned ones to come but they never do. The hills are featherless and bare.
When the moon rose, I did not know my home.
Grainfeeders live with a lot of noises. But the worst ones were the ones they
made at each other. My grainfeeder sometimes dropped salty water from her eyes on
me. I felt her sorrow and tried to comfort her, poor featherless thing... Sometimes
I gave her a cheer of hearty quackes to make her feel better. She would laugh her
odd quack and put her webless front foot on my head.
When she brought me back to the duck house, I missed her although I was so glad to
be with Sister and High Lake. I learned grainfeeder called us names: I was Godzilla,
Sister was Brown Beauty and High Lake was Wild Thing. I was Godzilla because I was
such a mighty slug hunter and protected her garden. I never learned her name.
We awoke one morning to a lot of grainfeeder noise. Usually we woke the grainfeeders,
gently singing the dawn song and the coming joys of breakfast grain.. . "For
pity worm's sake! Where are those egg- stealers?" High Lake grumped. "If
they aren't going to feed us, they should let us out."
Soon several machines fouled the air. Many things were carried out from the grainfeeders
house to the machines. All day their fellow creatures went back and forth. Finally
it was quiet again. The rain fell softly. It was dusk.We were trapped in the duck
house! They left and forgot all about us! Egg-stealers!
A strange egg-stealer came. She cooed us. She tried to catch us and put us in a wire
cage. No!No! Leave us alone! She grabbed Sister who honked and squawked. She got
High Lake who seemed resigned. But I struggled for a long time before this stranger
captured me. We were in the open back of her machine in the cage. Soon the home and
meadows and water we knew became a swirl of sounds and smells. The winds broke harsh
on us: I protected my eyes and remembered what my Mother had said: "Be brave.
I will always love you."
The bad dream came to an end. We were at another grainfeeder's place. This
was different. The forest was much closer. We could hear the running wild water.
Owls called all through the night, a fearful lullaby. A big nervy raccoon came and
rattled our cage. My heart almost stopped for fear. A black rabbit lived in a large
cage on stilts. She would not speak but cried sometimes in the night. We were kept
there for many days, fed well and received kindly sounds. There were three grainfeeders.
A mother, a father and a very large "duckkins". One day we had our freedom.
We explored our new world. It was wonderful! So many bugs and slugs.So many moist
places to hunt, tiny tadpoles and crunchy snails everywhere.
The next day High Lake said," Let's find the wild water! " and we did.
The banks to the water was very steep. The water cool and deep. We dove and swam
and played like duckkins.
I heard the grainfeeder calling, "Duckies, O, Duckies!" I quacked
back, beginning to feel friendly. I saw her far above us. She called and coaxed but
we ignored her. High Lake was as happy as I ever saw him. He swam under me, coming
up with a morsel he shared.
"Wives," he quacked. "let's be free - Forget the grainfeeding egg-stealers.
Fly with me. We will find the Wild Ones."
"Husband, "said Sister, quacking in fear, "we can't fly like you."
"Try", he quacked, "try! The Great Duck made you to fly!"
We tried. We flapped and skittered down the canyon of trees and water but we were
Soon the two male grainfeeders were above us. They climbed down the banks and waded
into the deep water. My domestic instincts betrayed me. After an obliging flutter
of my near useless wings, I waited to be grabbed. So did Sister. High Lake honked
a warning and flapped his strong wings. His wild instincts betrayed us. He lifted
off. The grainfeeders could not catch him. He flew down the green corridor calling,
"Farewell, my sweets!"
For many days we mourned the flight of our mate. Life seemed dull and distressing.
But life goes on and we found comfort in each other, the daily jobs of hunting bugs
and slugs, and watching the stars at night. High Lake once said the stars were ponds
of the ancestors, reflections of the Great Duck's eye.
The grainfeeders made us a new house, higher off the ground. They put in lots of
fragrant hay. Its door let down to make a ramp. Then they dug a new little pond for
us right in the little yard. It got muddy soon after we had our first bath of the
day. The better pond was the one close to their often noisy house. The water was
clean and cool running down stones, Many beautiful fishes swam there and flavored
the water just right. We cheered ourselves up by sneaking into it as often as possible.
When we were bored we quacked to the little feathered ones who shared our grain (
be kind to your fair feathered friends as Mother used to say...) and chased the five
cats to remind them who was in charge. Us!
We began to take our patrolling and warning duties seriously. We became the official
greeters and quacked well for our grainfeeders. I became especially fond of the youngest
one, poor dear, featherless duckkins! He brought us all sorts of good grain and always
remembered to change our water. Well, almost always. I always quacked hello when
I heard him coming.
A day to remember was when the grass in the meadow was as high as a horse
and the air as hot as the Great Duck's breath. Our grainfeeder and her large featherless
duckkins drove down the shady driveway in their nasty machine. We quacked our usual
greetings, feeling more trusting these days. But horrors! A huge furry monster came
bounding out, barking like a mad coyote. My ears ached. It was a dog! The kind of
typical monster Mother warned us about. I learned his name was Laddie. He watched
us carefully. We quacked back fiercely. He seemed to respect us and soon we lost
our fear of this legendary monster. He seemed friendly but we always kept an eye
out for him.
He kept an eye open for us, too. He chased away that dangerous raccoon that came
that very night. After that, we told the cats to be decent to him and we would be
decent to them
The leaf falling time and the frozen time came and then the first flower time,
again. The rabbit never said much. Once in a while Rabbit wanted to run around the
enclosed yard and charge us. My sister, Brown Beauty and I let her do this. It makes
her feel good. The little feathered ones come when they are hungry and we share our
grains. Sometimes the young yellow cat comes. He means no harm. And safe at night,
I dream of flying. I dream of finding High Lake and Mother. And Father, sunning himself
in the far North. "Duckie Girls, Duckie Girls", my grainfeeder calls and
I follow grateful for grain and safety. Sorry, High Lake. My wings are weak. My eggs
One day a nasty little dog monster came. He stayed in the grainfeeders house
with Laddie. They locked us up in our yard all day and half the next. Our pond was
warm, muddy, boring. Bye and bye our "Duckie Girl" grainfeeder let us out.
Joy and relief! I was busy getting a slug from under a stone when that fast furry
little dog bolted out of the house and came straight for me. Great Duck, I was a
goner! I ran. His mouth was almost on my neck when he was knocked over by a blur
of golden fur. Laddie! Saved, I squawked and dashed for the duck house. Nasty dog
was leashed. My gate was closed. Laddie sat down outside. I went to him and said
through the gate, "Thank you Laddie. You are a true friend." I knew it
costed him to run so fast. He was very old and sore. Sister rubbed my neck. We went
to nest early.
It was only yesterday, I heard a wild duck cry. I heard frogs singing.
I thought I heard High Lake calling, "Come, my dears! Come fly!"
I began to run, building speed. I lifted my wings. Yes, a little... try, try! Suddenly
I was on the road; a big machine came down upon me and lifted me into the air. I
Then I looked down and saw my body, feathers fluttering, neck bent. How curious.
I was flying so well. I circled back to see what happened. A little female grainfeeder
got out of the machine and lifted my broken body from the road and placed me at another
house close by. She thought I lived there.
After a while. the grainfeeder who lived there put my cold feathers in a bag.
I followed her as she carried my body to my grainfeeder
who dropped water from her eyes. Sister honked and called and couldn't hear my answer.
I flew to her and rubbed her neck. I know she felt me. I said goodbye to Laddie.He
understood. And then I flew and am flying still from star to star, ponds of the ancestor,
reflections of the eye of the Great Duck.
©Copyright 2000 by M.G. Hudson
Also see A
M.G. lives and works in the Spencer Creek Valley, Oregon.