Saturday, April 14, 2007

Ducks and Slugs

Kathleen discovered a woman who was giving away eight-week-old ducks, and having a garden enclosed by a deer fence, I thought I could keep them to control pests. So I took two. The duck lady delivered them, gave me a book on raising ducks and some feed. I released them in the garden. Within a minute they had waddled down the slope and out through the squares in the deer fence, which I thought would be too narrow for them to escape through. Not. I heard them in the bushes but they wouldn't come out.

Later they came up the stairs on the side of the garden, and I tried to herd them back into their proper digs. This scared them and they fled down and away into the bushes again. I fear they have become raccoon bait. Clearly I must wrap chicken wire around the deer fence should I wish to entertain quackers again. Call me "a duck farmer for a day."

As for pests in the redwoods, you haven't lived until you've seen a banana slug.

I once picked one up with my bare hand. It took six washings to begin to get the feeling of slime off my fingers. The Pacific Giant Salamander eats them. I have a friend who saw a salamander actually stalking a slug. It was just like a cheetah on a zebra, or so it seems to us redwood dwellers who are used to watching trees grow.

But we do have bears, bobcats, mountain lions, weasels, foxes, raccoons, and no poisonous snakes. And you say, "You live in California?" Yes. Just don't tell anyone.

Ducks and slugs certainly qualify as ordinary. Let's see if I can find another ordinary poem:

Nothing to Say

I have nothing needful to say,
no comment on the glittering bay
or the dark, snow-topped wall
of the San Gabriels.

Things used to be pulled from me,
uprooted like weeds from a garden.
I let the weeds bloom now.

The red-throated bird
that lives in my chipped balcony light
sings for a mate I have never seen.

I let my words run like watercolors.
Time runs only forward.
Why should art be different?
Here is the last line.



  1. Snappy damn poem, man.

    I like, I like.

    The fate of your duckies sure bummed me out though.

    How giant are those giant salamanders? When I was girl (gosh, it's hard to believe I ever was...) living in the undeveloped woods of New Hampshire (you've heard that Chrissy Hynde song "My City was Gone"? Well, mister, my woods are gone now and I'm still sad and mad about it), there were frogs and toads and salamanders everywhere. I'm not exagerating when I say that I could lift up a random rock and find small wine colored salamanders sleeping right along side huge black salamanders that were speckled with yellow dots.

    Oh, I miss my woods.

    I'm sorry to hear your duckies were eaten by the big bad world.

    Bums me out, man.

    Reminds me of a story I read in Newsweek yesterday about an elephant that tried to cross the river but had nowhere to go when it got to the other side thanks to all the hotels and resorts that have been built there. So, the poor thing kept swimming, trying to find solid land, and eventually got swept away by the 25 mph current....and was pulled downriver and over Victoria Falls.

    I don't know if I want to live in a world in which elephants can't cross a river. I don't know that I want to live in a world in which the chorus of frogs in the rain forests have gone silent.

    Ah, gee, CE. I kinda wish I hadn't read your duckie story now.

    I wish to hell I hadn't read the elephant story.

    I am glad I read your poem though.

  2. Here's a link to the Newsweek article:

    The Good Friday Elephant

  3. Vinegar works pretty good for getting that slug slime off. (Ours aren't that color, but they're good size.)

  4. LKD, you are such a compassionate soul, usually the gift of a melancholy temperament. I fear I don't feel quite the same love for animals as you do, but Kathleen does. The elephant story saddened me nevertheless. I update the ducks today.

    Tiel--how big are your slugs?

  5. Hello Mr. Chaffin,

    I am new on your blog...wanted to say hi first and start my journey..

    Its very bad to know about Good Friday Elephant.

    Now I am your regular reader...

    Self Help Zone


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