Ducks and Chucks,
The truth was, I was trying to avoid the problem we'd had at Diwali last year. You see, during the 2021 celebrations, I strung the lights at the pond too low. The result? Goose Luce sneezed rather hard, which always causes everyone on the pond to bounce around a bit, and suddenly, three swans were hanging upside down, dangling from the string lights. Fortunately, we attracted the attention of a low-flying helicopter, but the rescue attempt did send several of the birds flying. Fortunately, being birds, none of them really minded, and the birds for who Diwali is a big celebration were lucky enough to escape the whole sitch.
Anyway, this year, I made sure the string-lights were high above the pond's surface. "Nothing can go wrong!" I proudly announced. So, there we all were on a beautifully tranquil fall evening, drifting around, sharing festive Ritz crackers, when a nearby whirring noise starts to grow louder.
"What is that?" I asked Goose Luce.
"Goose Luce!" announced Goose Luce, saying the only two words she speaks. What she actually meant was "I think it's some kind of nearby motor."
"A motor?" I asked, my duck-heart sinking as I gazed in the direction of the growing noise. And guess who I saw?
That's right. Sir Mallard Jones, my posh best frenemy, racing towards us on his motorboat The Mallard.
As soon as the pond's swans, ducks, and geese spotted the motorboat, they began to panic.
"Don't fly upwards!" I quacked as loudly as I could. "It's just Mallard on The Mallard!" Thinking about it, that wasn't necessarily the most calming thing to say. Honestly, "Mallard on The Mallard" sounds like a bird-eat-bird version of Jaws 2. Perhaps that's why, in response, several birds flew upwards in a sudden panic, even as Mallard was leaning over the side of the motorboat quacking out, "Duck, my good fellow! I've brought some Camembert! It's a type of cheese, but posh!"
And when birds at our pond are in a panic, they tend to hurtle right into obstacles like strings of tasteful lights, before wriggling around so much that they're soon bound mid-air like a set of first-time trapeze artists.
As I said to one of the firefighters once they'd arrived and were untangling several upside-down flippers, Camembert on Ritz crackers is actually very tasty. Yes, it bungs up the beak-holes, but who doesn't want that lovely, mildly cabbagey flavor clinging to their plush? The cheese, to be honest, made the whole charade of watching birds being slowly rotated by muscular humans standing on inflatable rafts in a bid to untangle said birds' flippers more intriguing. And when Mallard gave me a few sips of pondweed champagne from his hip flask, I did feel a little cheered.
"I know it's not the best of scenarios," I told Mallard, "but this is the festival of lights, so perhaps some kind of unexpected lightbulb activity is a plus!"
"Old chap, festival-wise, I can only speak to Christmas," said Mallard, "but as I've always said, what's December without some bearded human getting stuck up a chimney on their way to handle a stranger's stocking?"
And there we have it, ducks and chucks. Another whopping string-light fail. Or, as Mallard put it, another extraordinary duckstravaganza. Or, as Goose Luce put it, another Goose Luce, Goose Luce, Goose Luce.
Next year, we'll light candles or something. That's bound to be less of a hazard.
Happy Diwali to all who celebrate! And happy fall to all who are currently freezing their flippers off. Take care out there, my friends, in this strange, strange world.