When Sue first started sitting, like a number of ducks we have known, she would sit for a little while and then think of several other things she should be doing and go to do them.
Sir Francis would always be there to squire Sue around at those times, and even though he did sometimes in the lonely hours when Sue was communing with her eggs go down to the pond for a swim, he seemed to have a different view of things than hitherto.
One day he even let the dog know that dogs were not welcome at his pond.
In fact, Sir Francis seemed to be developing into a real Colonel Blimp, the cartoon character whom Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable describes as "an elderly, unprogressive, reactionary 'gentleman' of somewhat limited intelligence."
Dogs are not the only threats to order and stability as far as Sir Francis is concerned.
He and Sue had been strolling up from the pond several times a day to scoop up some grain we leave out in a dish for them. Other birds enjoyed the treat too of course but that didn't seem to matter too much. After politely showing Sue where the grain dish was, Sir Francis would stand well back, with an air of noblesse oblige, while Sue had her tiffin and then, when she was quite done, he would have his tiffin and they would stroll together back down to the pond.
All that has changed since Sue began sitting. Sir Francis, it seems, has drawn another line. He now takes strong exception to sharing grain with other, presumably lesser, species. He most especially objects to the black races: crows, grackles, etc.
This morning I watched him in hot pursuit of a grackle. Sir Francis was making his dignified way up to the dooryard and the grain when suddenly - oh, horrors! - he spotted the grackle enjoying what should have been Sue's breakfast. He stopped. He glared. And then...neck out straight, head down, he assumed his "make the world safe for Sue" posture and, arrow-like, hurtled forward to meet the enemy.
The object of all this hostility, the grackle of the first part, looked to me like one of those street-smart types who, seeing the rioters rushing down the street in his direction, steps calmly into the nearest doorway, only to go his unruffled way a few moments later after the uproar has passed.
Unfortunately for the grackle there was no doorway to step into, and what was approaching was no disorganized rabble but the avian equivalent of the U.S. Cavalry, coming like the wind and clearly intending to take no prisoners.
Still unwilling to appear to lose his cool, the grackle stepped out of sight around the far side of the well-head, actually a huge concrete casing we were sold years ago as the very thing to protect the well.
Not a moment later a grackle now advancing in two-footed hops appeared around the near side of the well-head. Sir Francis was gaining ground. The grackle, a late riser, did not wish to forgo breakfast but also obviously did not want to be run over by an enraged duck. He hopped around two rose bushes, do-si-doed past the lilac, and, losing ground, down the yard he went.
He finally got tired of the activity and flew up into a near-by tree, leaving Sir Francis glaring up at him from the ground.
It did not matter that Sue was not there. It didn't even matter that after glaring up into the tree for a while Sir Francis forgot what it was he had come for in the first place and wandered off to see Sue.
It's not easy, being a duck - especially a duck with standards.
Words & Images
We moved to our farm in Sussex, New Brunswick from Toronto in 1977, only moving away in 2014.