Friday, December 15, 2017

The Feather

She was a special little duck, not too big as ducks go. She had plain but nice and smooth and shiny feathers but there was one thing unusual about her and that’s that on her back, she could reach it so she could clean it and keep it shiny, was a small single red feather. 

Bright red feathers don’t usually show up in a ducks body there, at least not for her nor her relatives and it stuck up, sort of popped up out of the rest of her feathers so it looked a little funny when she was walking around or swimming. Of course when she was flying with friends or family, not many people could see it. It wasn’t a big feather so it didn’t interfere with the way she would fly but she could feel it in the breeze.

She liked to visit the park with her friends and family. A lot of her friends and family would eat the bread or other things that people would throw but she didn’t like to do that. She held back, she knew she was there for a reason but she wasn’t sure what it was. One day the reason showed up and that explained why she had that red feather.

“Over the vista and through the woods. Now, how did that song go?” 
“Grandpa, it’s not over the vista, it’s over the river and through the woods,” Andie said.
“Is that it,” Andie’s Grandpa Jeff asked.
“Yes,” Andie answered.

“Oh well, it’s good I have you around Andie, isn’t it because you can help me to remember the things I used to know and - there was a time when I taught you that song.”
“That’s right Grandpa. Sorry, I shouldn’t have made such a fuss,” Andie said apologizing.
“That’s alright, sweetie. Don’t you worry about it. What do you want to do today,” Grandpa asked.

“Well”, she said, “I was thinking, maybe we could walk down to the park - you know the place you like to go and sit on the bench by the ducks, because that duck I was looking for - you know the one the other day?”

“Yes, the one with the funny feather,” Grandpa answered. “That’s right. I was wondering if that duck came back,” Andie responded.
“Well, lets go,” Grandpa said.
“Okay,” Andie answered.

So they put on their jackets. Grandpa Jeff used his extra warm scarf and Andie put on her warm sweater vest. They left the house and walked towards the park. It was only two blocks away but it was a nice walk because on the way, there were several people who had friendly dogs and Andie would say hello to all the dogs and they’d come up wagging their tails. 

One place, Grandpa Jeff said hello to his neighbor Jocelyn who was always very happy to see him and they would linger for a little bit. Andie would smile shyly and look at the ground and hope that someday her grandfather and this sweet lady Jocelyn would get together. “They’d make a sweet couple,” Andi thought to herself.

They got to the park and settled down on their favorite bench. Not too many other people were around, just the regulars that came there every day. They waved cheerfully to all the regulars and the regulars waved back and they settled in and waited for the ducks to come.

The ducks always came at the same time of day. Andie figured that they probably had other places they wanted to visit. Grandpa figured that they had other places where they could get goodies and they would go on tour to various places where they could get some foods they liked. 

Andie and her grandfather would always bring special food that they got at the pet store that was just for ducks. It gave them all of the nutrients they needed to be healthy. So they felt good about feeding the ducks and knowing that they were helping them too.

Soon the ducks showed up and lo and behold there was the duck with the different feather.

“What do you think that means, grandpa?” “Well you know, it is funny. You wouldn’t expect a red feather to be sticking out of a duck in that place. It’s just a mystery, isn’t it”, Grandpa responded to Andie. “It sure is,” Andie answered. Grandpa continued, “I don’t know what that red feather means but I wonder.”

Soon the ducks came out of the water towards them because they knew that they were going to get their good food. Several of them came over including the little duck with the red feather. 

Andie’s grandpa Jeff and Andie spread out the food for them and most of the ducks started eating except the little duck with the red feather who walked right up to Andie, turned around and pecked at the feather and pulled it out. She dropped it right at Andie’s feet.

Grandpa looked over at Andie and looked at the little duck and said, “I think that’s meant as a gift for you.” Andie responded quietly, “I think so too. Should I reach right down and pick it up now?” “I would,” Grandpa answered.

Andie slowly reached down and got the feather and watched the little duck and noticed that the duck watched her all the way and when she picked up the feather she held it for a moment and little duck kept watching her.

“You know…,” said Grandpa, “…I think she wants you to do something with it.” Andie answered, “I know this sounds silly but I feel like putting it in my hair.” Grandpa responded, “Go ahead.”

She stuck it in her hair and the little duck looked at Andie and then at grandpa Jeff. She looked back at Andie one more time and nodded her head and turned around and went back in the water.

“What does it mean, grandpa?”
“I’m not sure what it means…,” Grandpa said, “…but I think it must mean something good.”

Well, they went home after that and they talked it over that night - what could it mean - but they didn’t know so they each went to bed and had a good nights sleep and looked forward to going to the park again the next day.

Sure enough, the next day they looked at each other and smiled. Andie was wearing the red feather. She had dusted it off and found a way to put it in her hair so it wouldn’t blow away.

“Oh, that looks nice,” Grandpa said. “Thank you. I’m not sure if it’ll stay there but I have it sort of connected to a scrunchy and I think it might,” Andie replied.

“It’s a beautiful gift and not a bad looking gift giver,” Grandpa said with a smile.“Not bad looking at all,” Andie said cheerfully.

They walked on towards the park and Andie said hello to the friendly dogs and then they got to the house where Jocelyn lived but she wasn’t sitting out on the porch as usual. Andie noticed that her grandfather looked disappointed but they walked on. 

A half a block away from the park they saw Jocelyn at a distance walking towards them from a side street. As she got closer she said, “How do you like my new Christmas hat?”

Grandpa Jeff and Andie glanced at each other, then looked at Jocelyn. Grandpa Jeff said, “My, that’s a beautiful big red feather on your hat.” Jocelyn answered, “Thank you, and what a nice red feather in your hair, Andie.”

“We really want to tell you all about what happened at the park yesterday,” Jeff said. And soon they were talking and laughing like old friends.

Soaring in the sky a little ways overhead, little duck smiled and knew that the little girl and the old man would soon be happy with the lady.

Happy Holidays to you all as well. 


Photo is © B. Kim Barnes, used with permission, and can be found at

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