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According to John Koenig's "Dictionary Of Obscure Sorrows," This Duck Is Ducking Riddled With Onism.

Peacock Riley and Duck (both stuffies) pose, Riley in a top hat and Duck in heart-shaped sunglasses
Riley (left) and Duck (right)


We birds know what it's like to have our own language. Politically speaking, only a bird is allowed to call themselves a birdbrain, beak-head, or lumbering sack of feathers. Then, of course, there are many differently-languaged birds, like the CEO of my pond, Goose Luce, who only ever says "Goose Luce!" but manages to communicate a duck of a lot by saying those words in extremely different ways.

How I know when Goose Luce is offering me a coffee with two sugars and a pondweed cookie is beyond me.

My pal Swan Juan, on the other hand, does not speak at all, but mostly communicates by using his beak to tap on hollow objects, like an empty soda can or Mallard Jones' head. [Apologies to Mallard Jones, who is Duck's sworn frenemy—Star.] One tap for "yes," two taps for "no," and a kind of hollow shaky noise for, "Can somebody help? I've gotten my beak stuck in an almost-empty soda can again."

Swan Juan, a stuffy, taps at a soda can with his beak
Swan Juan, busy communicating

In spite of all these ways for birds to communicate, yours truly still gets lost for words. This is especially true during this ducking pondemic [that's pandemic to humans—Star], when I can't go to the pond. This means my flippers are dry, my throat's croaky, and I've lost the watery familiarity of my day-to-day pond managing duties. Not that I want to go to the pond—I'm not catching this quackers virus! If only I could be at home, I say to myself, but have some other immuno-brilliant body on the pond as well.

How to describe this feeling? Onism. Yes, according to John Koenig, I am riddled with onism, which is "the frustration of being stuck in just one body, that inhabits only one place at a time, which is like standing in front of the departures screen at an airport, flickering over with strange place names like other people’s passwords, each representing one more thing you’ll never get to see before you die—and all because, as the arrow on the map helpfully points out, you are here."

The above definition is from John Koenig's "Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows," which sounds ducking great, has yet to be published, and which I found thanks to a great post by Vicky at the Nowhere Bookshop blog—which yours truly is looking forward to checking out more.

You can also go read quackers-beautiful snippets from the book (like the onism definition above) at Koenig's website. While you're there, you can give a duck about this great project by signing up for newsletter updates. Koenig's writing is poetic and compelling. And his words are the duck's bananas [duck loves fruit—Star].

Me and onism. This duck feels swamp-loads better for being able to ducking name it.

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Over and out,



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