When her baby was born, Mama Duck had looked down in her nest and was surprised to see that there was only one egg. One great big egg! She was so surprised she just had to sit down! She'd wanted a great big family but all she'd had was one egg. "Oh well," she said to herself, "I guess I have to be happy with just one baby." And she climbed back into her nest and settled herself comfortably on the large egg to keep it nice and warm.
Mama Duck was a very good mother and she never left her nest. Every now and then she'd lift her large, fluffy bottom a little and look at the big egg. She'd take her wing and softly caress the shell and push it into just the right spot in her nest to keep it snug and warm. Satisfied that all was well, she heaved a great sigh of relief and returned to her egg sitting. "It has now been a week and my baby should be hatching pretty soon," she thought to herself as she drifted slowly off to sleep.
The night passed quickly and just as the sun was coming up over the Eastern horizon in Maine, she felt the large egg move ever so slightly. She lifted her bottom and carefully stepped off the nest. Again the large egg rolled from side to side and then she saw a tiny hole in the top of the egg.
Mama Duck was ever so excited and she ran around the farm telling all the other animals to come quickly. "My baby is coming! My baby is coming!" She quacked happily.
All the farm animals gathered around the nest and watched as Mama Duck's baby pecked its way out of his shell. Finally, after a very long time, the hole in the shell was large enough and Mama Duck's baby stuck his head out and looked around.
He saw so many interesting creatures and they were all looking back at him. There was Mr. and Mrs. Moo-Moo Cow, Mrs. Penny Pig and her eight pink piglets, Mrs. Hector Horse and her son, Trotter, Mrs. Clucky Chicken and her three chicks, Charley, Chickey and Chelsey.
"Hurry, baby, hurry," said Mama Duck as she began tearing the shell apart. She gave one great big pull and the rest of the shell fell away and finally her baby was free.
"Goodness!" exclaimed Mrs. Hector Horse. "My, My, My," muttered Mr. and Mrs. Moo-Moo Cow. Mrs. Penny Pig and all her pink piglets oinked in agreement. And Mrs. Chucky Chicken and her chicks flew all around the barnyard in their excitement. Mama Duck's baby had finally been born. There was much excitement that morning and all the animals were very happy about the big event.
When all their friends had finally left, Mama Duck filled a big tub with nice warm water and began bathing her new baby. She carefully and tenderly placed him in the tub of nice warm water. Then she washed his sweet face and combed his fine yellow duck down. He was so beautiful!
Suddenly, he began paddling his big, orange feet and soon he was swimming round and round in the old tin tub. Every time he came around to where his mother was waiting, he'd look at her with his big, brown eyes and smile his great big smile. "Oh, my lovely big son, you are so smart to know how to swim. I'm so very proud of you!" And she wiped a big tear from her lovely blue eyes.
Finally, when he was nice and clean and tired of swimming, she lifted him out and wiped him dry on a soft, fluffy towel. Then, she tucked him into the curve of her wing and they took a nice long nap together under the old apple tree in the back yard.
Mama Duck was so very proud of her baby and she began training him right away. She showed him the fields where the best grains could be found and the place where the wild rice grew along the river banks. She took him down to the pond and let him practice his swimming. Her baby was very smart and he learned his lessons very quickly. Mama Duck was so proud!
"Come, my little baby boy," she said tenderly to her son. "I want to introduce you to all your cousins and all my other friends." She told her baby to follow her and she started swimming across the large pond to where all the other ducks lived. She'd stop every now and then to make sure her baby wasn't too tired and after he'd rested a little on her back, they'd resume paddling across the pond.
When they finally reached the other side, all her friends gathered around them and praised Mama Duck and her new baby. It was a very happy day for everyone. "Well, Mama Duck," said Marcy Mallard. "What is your new son's name?" "Oh, goodness me," laughed Mama Duck. "How very silly I am. In all the excitement, I forgot to give my son a name." "Never mind, never mind," said Ferbold the Bullfrog. "Just look at what your baby is doing and I think you will know what his name should be."
Mama Duck looked over to where her baby was playing with all his cousins and then she laughed. Her baby was having a wonderful time. He'd paddle a short distance across the pond and then he'd dip his head under the water and wiggle his big, fluffy bottom in the air. Then, he'd pop right back up and when he saw how this made all the other ducks laugh, he'd do it over and over again.
Mama Duck laughed too and then she said, "I see what you mean Ferbold. I do have his name after all. I'm going to name him Dippy after his great, grandfather and Doodle after his father. His name will be Dippy Doodle Duck." And Dippy Doodle it was.
As the days and weeks passed, Mama Duck and Dippy Doodle were very busy. They ate and drank, walked and swam and visited all the animals at the farm and their friends at the pond. They took long naps under large plants and looked for good foods to eat. Dippy Doodle was a growing duckling and he was always hungry.
Dippy Doodle would eat all his food and then he'd beg his mother for more. "Now, Dippy Doodle," his mother would scold. "You've already eaten all my whole-wheat casserole and you've drunk all your nice cold milk. I think you've had enough." But Dippy Doodle would beg and beg and like all mothers, she loved her son and she'd finally give in and give him a couple of chocolate chip cookies or a small dish of ice cream. She spent hours looking up recipes in her old cookbook and she cooked all the foods that she thought he might like.
As the weeks passed, Dippy Doodle grew and grew. Suddenly, one morning, Mama Duck looked at her son and she saw that he was much larger than she and his feathers were a different color too. Her feathers were a soft, shiny red but Dippy Doodles were mostly brown with a little white here and there. His head was very large too. "Why," Mama Duck thought to herself, "All of him is very large. He's even larger than his father, Dalton and he looks a lot like his great, grandfather, Dillard Doodle Duck."
Suddenly, Dippy Doodle was the largest duck in the pond at the farm. He was really very large and very beautiful and when he quacked, he quaaaaacked!!! His quack always frightened his mother and made her very nervous too. "Dippy Doodle," she'd scold him. "Please remember to quack in a small voice when you're in the house." For a little while Dippy would quack in a soft voice and then he'd forget and his big voice would come out again. "Quaaaaaaaack!" "Quaaaaaaaack!" "Quaaaaaaack!" The loud quacking gave Mama Duck a big headache and she would cover her ears with her wings and put a cold cloth on her head and then she finally gave up. There was no way around it, Dippy Doodle was a big duck and his voice was big too. But Mama Duck loved her big son just the way he was.
Before Mama Duck knew it, a year had passed and Dippy Doodle was all grown up. She watched her son as he followed his father around the yard. "Not only is he quite large," she thought to herself. "But he's strong too. Pretty soon he'll leave us and start a family of his own." Mama Duck wiped a large tear off her check at the thought of Dippy Doodle's leaving to go off and start his own family.
Every afternoon, when the sun was high in the sky and it was very hot and all his work was done, Dippy Doodle would hurry down to the pond to have a swim in the nice cool water. He'd lie back in the water, pull his big, floppy hat down over his large brown eyes and have a long nap. Every so often, he'd splash water on himself with his big, orange feet to cool off and then refreshed, he'd fall back asleep.
Every now and then, when the breeze was just right, he'd hear the sound of laughter, splashing and merriment at the other end of the pond as the other ducks dove and played all around him.
Sometimes, Dippy Doodle would feel very sad as he watched the other duck having so much fun. And sometimes, he would ask himself why they didn't ask him to join them. "I can swim as well as they can and I can be funny too!" He thought to himself. But, usually, he'd just lie back in the cool water, pull his large hat down over his head and pretend that he didn't care. "If they don't want me to join them, I don't care!" he'd say to himself. But he did, he really, really did!"
Then one day when the sun was shining and it was very hot, everything changed for Dippy Doodle. He'd been scolded by his father for forgetting to clean his room, chased out of the house by his mother because he'd tracked dirt all over her nice clean floor and it had not been a very happy day for Dippy Doodle at all. He wandered all over the farm, stopping every now and then to take a drink of cold water, to eat a green apple or to sit in the shade of a large, pine tree. It was really hot and he was very, very bored!
If the warm summer breeze was just right, all he could hear was the laughter and sounds the other ducks made as they played and swam in the cool water at the far end of the pond. Dippy Doodle would quietly slide down the bank of the pond to the water's edge and silently peek through the reeds and cattails and watch the others having so much fun.
As Dippy Doodle watched the others playing, he noticed someone that he hadn't noticed before. He squinted his big, brown eyes a little to cut the glare of the noonday sun and watched as another duck left the others and began swimming across the water close to where he was hiding. His heart made pitter, patter sounds in his ears as the lovely lady duck swam closer to where he was.
Dippy Doodle watched as she got closer and then he recognized her! It was Miss Martha Mary Mallard! She was the most beautiful duck that he had ever seen! Her feathers, shining in the sun, were all the colors of the rainbow. "She paddles so elegantly with her tiny feet and she holds her beautiful head in just the right way, like a real lady does," he thought to himself. As she slowly paddled her way around the pond, she would stop every now and then and look shyly in Dippy Doodle's direction. Something inside told him that he should follow her and before he knew it, Dippy Doodle found himself swimming in the water.
Dippy Doodle paddled his big feet ever so carefully so as not to make a big wave and it wasn't too long before he was right next to her. Careful to keep his big voice soft and low so he wouldn't frighten her, Dippy Doodle introduced himself. Martha Mary Mallard looked at him and then she laughed. She didn't have a soft laugh like his mother either. Her laugh was big and loud! Why it was a lot like Dippy Doodle's! Suddenly Dippy Doodle was smiling, he was smiling all over and then his great big laugh came out too! And upon hearing Dippy doodle's great, big laugh, Martha Mary Mallard laughed right along with him. The other ducks at the end of the pond heard the loud laughter and stopped their laughing and talking and listened to the two new friends, who were having so much fun.
Dippy Doodle and Martha Mary Mallard paddled all over the pond, round and round they went, talking and laughing in their great big voices. They had so much to say to each other. Every now and then, just to hear her lovely laugh again, Dippy Doodle would push his large head down into the water until his body was nearly upside down and he'd waggle his large bottom in the air. Then, he'd pop back up in time to hear her delighted laughter. "Oh, Dippy Doodle, you are ever so funny!" Martha Mary Mallard said over and over again. Then she'd paddle her dainty, little feet and swim away and Dippy Doodle would have to paddle very hard to catch up with her and they'd laugh again. Or, she'd dip one of her lovely iridescent wings into the clear, blue water and flip water all over Dippy Doodle. He really, really loved that!
All the other ducks stopped their swimming, laughing and playing and listened to all the fun Dippy Doodle and Martha Mary Mallard were having. "Well," they sniffed to each other, "Why are they having so much fun?" And they'd swim a little closer to where Dippy Doodle and Martha Mary Mallard were, hoping that they'd be invited to join them. But Dippy Doodle and Martha Mary Mallard just kept on talking, swimming and laughing. Suddenly, all the other ducks understood what it means to be left out and they didn't like it, they didn't like it one little bit!
From that day on, Dippy Doodle Duck was always very happy because he had found a friend and when you have a friend, you are never alone again.
M. Stevens-David 01/20/07
Martha Stevens-David Column at Magic City
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