Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The End of a Beautiful Giant

The End of a Beautiful Giant

Attention: Dramatic Turn see below in this post!

Like I said before, the day that Pipke was born it had been a very severe thunderstorm, so severe that there had been a lot of storm damage all over the country.

At our place there hadn't been so much damage, only here and there we had seen large branches that had been teared off or billboards on the road that had been blown down.
At first sight we thought that we were lucky, but now four months later it showed that this hadn't been so.
It was really unfortunately but the old beautiful Willow tree on the other side of the street had suffered from the gusty wind, it had become too much for it!
Although the tree seemed OK back then, now – the owners of the place had discovered that there was a fissure in it, and it had started to rot there, with the result that there was now a big hole in it. The beautiful giant had now become a danger not only to the house but also to the people who passed there, it was no longer stable. Another gusty wind could blow the tree over. The people from the fire department came to inspect the tree and they strongly recommended to remove it.
The owners were of course responsible if anything should happen, so they had no choice.
They and also we found it so unfortunate for the beautiful tree: his death sentence was signed!
But, it was not only unfortunate for the tree but also for the ducks, Pipke's family!
What would they do – now that their habitat was going to change?
We had to wait and see!
It was already late in the evening of September 9, 1995 that the firemen arrived to remove the tree.

First we thought: “they arrive so late in the evening, it will be dark before they can finish the job”, we even doubted if that would be possible.
From the moment that the ducks saw the fire engine, they panicked and they ran away very scared from the danger to the woodland of one of our neighbour's.

Last visit at the pond

Just before the cut down.

Very subdued we watched the firemen extending the ladder from their fire engine.

They started with the highest branches on top of the tree.

Their chainsaws made an enormous clamor, they also had to chop.

First the smaller and then the larger branches, each time descending meter by meter, and every time a heavy branch fell down on the ground, we could feel the earth tremble.
When a piece of the trunk fell – it almost felt like an earthquake – even our whole house trembled.

They had finished the job in no time and before it was dark.

Oh, it was such an awful sight now – a large heap of branches and trunks was the only remainder of that beautiful tree. It had taken the willow such a long time to become so tall and beautiful, and now he was demolished in no time.
The place had lost his charm now.
The pond with the ducks and also the beautiful Willow tree had once “lured” us to this place!
Of course, there was still the pond – but what with the ducks – would they return?
The next day, the firemen came back to remove all what remained.
Now it would become a real adaptation for us, we missed the view of the old Giant!
The ducks returned the day after – but they weren't at ease at all – their habitat was destroyed now.
The days afterwards, we saw them less and less.
We only could see them so now and then in the distance, far away – in our neighbour's woodland – and fourteen days later – they were gone and never returned!
We never saw them again.
We could never find out what happened with them.

Pipke's family had disappeared!

Of course there still rested the pond, not all was gone – but what is a pond without ducks – for me it's only a deep puddle with water. It was no longer so attractive, and also “this” would come to an end much sooner then we had expected.
Only a few years later our street underwent a total transformation.
The road was broadened, and to widen the road they (the municipal agencies) had decided that the pond came too close to the road, so: it had to go.
They filled the pond with earth and after only a few months you could see no more – that there had once been a pond.

All what could remind us on Pipke's family was gone!
An era was closed!

Next time we will continue with: A Discovery

Hope to see you then!
Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Thanks for your visit

I wish you all the best

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Monday, October 11, 2010

Flying Lessons

Flying Lessons

She was now already more than three months old.
Many weeks before we had seen that she was flapping her wings to practice to learn to fly.

Practicing to get strong wings.

From time to time we saw her hopping – while she flapped her wings – to try to come off the ground – and then we encouraged her and we went running in front of her – like two fools – while also we flapped our arms
Then one day, we were practicing again and then it happened. While she raced after us, she flapped her wings and hopped and all of a sudden – she went airborne – not yet high – but she flew a few meters.

                                        Fly Pipke ... fly! 
The touch down was not so good, it was rather falling down on her belly.

We encouraged her every time she tried to fly, and although her balance was still poor, one day she succeeded to fly so high that we were afraid that she would fly over the fence.
She practiced her flying skills very often, but she really couldn't get the right balance.
Once she was practicing, and again she flew rather high, but when she tried to land, she came almost in coalition with the wall of our garden house.
From that moment, it seemed almost as if she was afraid to fly high, she never flew that high again, but maybe there was also another explanation for this: I think – that it was probably because we also stayed on the ground, (of course we didn't go up in the air) that she never flew high and she developed a rather funny and special style of flying – she only flew just above the ground – while her toes hardly touched the ground.
Now we still wonder “how” she could escape from our neighbour's pen, the place was surrounded with a very proper fence, there were no holes in it: had she flown over the fence?
We could never figure it out, and now we still think that she could fly when she wanted it – when she was in need.

The anecdote below proves this:
Once we were working on the lawn of our front garden which is situated right next to the roadway, and as always she was there working with us.
Suddenly, we saw that a car approached very fast and it seemed as if it would drive almost on our lawn.
Because we were afraid that the car would hit Pipke we yelled: “Pipke fly!” She understood that very well – and suddenly she flew up in the air – away from the danger. The driver of the car was a little embarrassed, he was in fact distracted by Pipke, he found it was so special that she was there working with us.
When we were working in the front garden, we had to tell Pipke's story many times (in short of course) to people who passed because they asked so many questions. They were charmed by her beauty. Even many years later, those same people asked about Pipke when they saw us working there without her.

Anyhow -- although she never could find a good flying balance, her balance while standing on one paw became excellent.
As all ducks also she stood often sleeping on one paw. We could always see that she made plans to do that because she then started to shake her paw. Then she closed her webbed foot and tried to find a good place to hide it between her feathers. After shaking her foot a few times, it disappeared completely between her feathers. She did the same with her beak.
She could often stand in this position for hours, this was resting for her.
Imagine that you as a human have to stand on one foot for hours, I think you don't even have to try it!

Meanwhile she had adopted herself to a daily routine.

Every morning when my husband went to open her pen she wanted to go to the garden house to eat at the large food container.
Now – before we realized it - Summer was almost over, and at that moment we didn't know that there would come a great change in our and Pipke's life.
Next time I will give away what happened.

See you!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Husband's Plan C

The Escape

September came, and my husband was still looking for another place for Pipke.
One of our neighbors has a beautiful garden (approx. 10.000 square meters) with a pond also occupied by ducks: a secure place surrounded with a fence. He offered us to bring her to their pond. The place is situated at only 250 meters from our home, so we could visit her every day.
After my husband pushed for a while to bring her there – I agreed – I could live with it, so I could keep an eye on her. It seemed like a good solution.
In the morning of September, 4 my husband took her away. He stepped outside and she followed him, not knowing what would come next, she trusted him completely.
I still can see the image of them both – leaving our house and crossing the street.
I stayed at home, it was too hard for me to see her in panic again. With pain in my heart I had accepted that she would no longer be here, but still nearby.
Five hours later, and although I told my husband to stay at home and not to intervene, my husband went back to see how she was doing. He was horrified with what he saw! He found her there – in the middle of the lane – quacking very loudly and again totally in panic, she had escaped from the enclosure!
What a great luck that it wasn't a busy street, it could have ended very badly.
So, with tears in his eyes he brought her back, and then he said the words I had been waiting for for so long: “now she will stay with us forever! What if I hadn't found her at that moment”. He didn't want to think of what could have happened.
She was so exultant to be back home, that she jumped full of joy in a bucket that was standing there on our terrace.

Now my hubby still says, that he had a hunch that there was something wrong with her at that particular moment. I really do believe this because, this time, it was me who said : “stay at home, you are only going to make things worse when she sees you”. He was the one who wanted to go back and we are both still happy that he did it!
(Only one day later *something happened that closed an era in our and also Pipke's family's life.)

Vistiting the pond, the place where *it would happen only a few days later.

Why my hubby had plan a, b and c.
I want to explain this.
He had his reasons for making these plans.
In that same year, we had planned to go on holiday later that year at the end of September, we had already rented a cottage in Brittany (France). There's a lovely little place called: St. Vincent de Paul, in the middle of nowhere. We had been there already three times before, and we spent there the best holidays we ever had, but of course, the birth of Pipke had ruined this new plan.
Because I didn't want to leave her, we had to cancel this holiday.
My hubby also looked more to the future, he would like to travel and that would be difficult having Pipke around. At first he thought, maybe we can find someone who can take care of her, here at our place so we could travel – but after some time – he was also no longer interested in traveling, she had also conquered his heart.
Now our bond grew stronger and stronger – we would never leave her – not even for one whole day!
For the rest of her life we never went away from home for more than 8 hours, it was rather  exceptional that this happened (maybe only three times and then it was because we were invited somewhere so we were obliged).
We no longer took trips or vacations, we were no longer interested in other places.
Our place was at home – together with Pipke.

Now she was at home in our garden, it had become her little world.

These three following pictures were taken in August 1995.
Showing off her feathers.
Not interested in art class, she rather cuddled.

Her first dive in a large pool.

Meanwhile we could extend her little world, we were allowed to use a small part of our neighbour's meadow for Pipke. So, my hubby made a little opening in our fence to that small part of the meadow. He installed a little fence around that part of the meadow so she could go safely in and out whenever she liked. She loved to be there, because there were always long grasses and wild plants available, and that wasn't the case in our garden.
At the meadow just behind her pen.

Mud a real feast for her!

Hey what's in there!

Here she's working in the frontgarden with us. She's still so young and already our garden assistant.

So now and then my hubby went with her in the large meadow to search for worms.
At sunset, she now came quacking at the window of the living room, or she knocked with her beak on the door of the laundry room to go to her pond to sleep.
She became a real member of the family.
From then on we only made plans for the future together with her.

With this happy completion of plan c I will close this chapter and I'm going to prepare the next post.
Next time we continue with: Flying Lessons.

Hope to see you then!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

In Loving Memory 2010

To my dear Pipke
In My Heart
I thought of you with love today, but that's nothing new.

I thought about you yesterday, and days before that too.

I think of you in silence, I often speak your name.

Now all I have is memories, and your pictures in a frame.

Your memory is my keepsake, with which I’ll never part.

God has you in his keeping.

I have you in my heart.
May 25, 1995 – September 14, 2009.
In loving memory of

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Husband's Plans A and B

Hello, good to see you again!

We hope you had a beautiful holiday season!
To continue with the story.

Husband's Plan A

Although we had done all that work for her, and although our bond grew much closer, in fact – from the beginning my husband wasn't so keen to keep her!
He spoke about his plan to take her away to another place. I protested very strongly against it, but I am married and not alone to take a decision on this.
His argument was that: “with her we would have no more freedom”. So he had been looking for a place, and he had found one: “a children's farm”. He said that “this would be the best for her!”
The owners of this farm were prepared to take Pipke, they would give her a place on their pond among other ducks.
From the moment she was six weeks old, we took her to the children's farm several times a week.
She enjoyed the ride and she looked around very astonished sitting in her plastic container next to me on the back seat of the car. This was the first time that she saw the great big outside world.
Sometimes it was very funny to see the faces of other car drivers or pedestrians when we passed, their eyes followed us very astonished!
After several visits (at least fifteen times) and after being introduced several times to the other ducks we thought now we should try to let her meet them.

Here we were still in the neighborhood so she wasn't yet in panic.

From the moment we left her alone and hid ourselves she was totally in panic. She was even attacked by the other ducks. Of course they considered her as being an invader.
Therefore we had to intervene immediately, or one minute later they would have teared her apart. One drake even bit her in her wing, and he kept her very firmly, he was really furious.
No – this wouldn't be a solution – we wouldn't even consider to come back with her!
This wasn't the right place for her!
During the whole period of the visits to the children's farm, I almost couldn't sleep at night, it was a very hard time for me.
I wouldn't let her go. She had become the centre point of my life.

Early morning ritual.

Visiting her parents at the pond.

Now, after what happened at the children's farm, I thought that my husband would keep her, and I felt in fact a little relieved, but my husband had already made another plan.

Husband's Plan B
He came with another proposition. He would bring her to another place: a little farm, also with a pond and ducks: “a perfect place for her” he said.
The owners – real animal friends – had three children.
The place was situated only 5 km away from our home, so we could visit her whenever we'd like to.
I can remember that day as if it were yesterday: August 15, 1995.
We took her away in the early morning!
Again from the moment she could no longer see us – she was totally in panic and calling for us – quacking loudly.
My husband said: “you must be strong now, this will soon be over!”
So we drove back home, I … weeping and trying to convince myself that she would be OK now!
But – when we were back home – and I saw the now empty garden – the thought that she would no longer be with us – that last image of her – so helpless – calling for us – It broke my heart!
It felt as if I had left my own crying child behind.
It was in the late afternoon and because I was still sad and in tears, my husband agreed to go back and bring her home. So, there we drove off, up to the farm again.
You must have seen her – you must have heard her – how loudly she quacked when she saw us!
The owners understood what “she” meant for us and what “we” meant for her ... they were moved by her loud quacking, her warm welcome made that clear to them.
I found it very tough for the children, because they loved her already. They even had given her a name already: “*Pomponneke”, but they also agreed that it was best that we took her back home.
I can still see them in my thoughts, while we drove away from the farmyard they waved us farewell and called: “bye, bye, Ponponneke”!
(*They gave her that name because of the “Pom-pon” on her head.:)

During the ride back home, I got an overload of cuddles. Oh – Pipke was so delirious with joy and I was so happy to have her back!
That night .... I had no problem at all to fall asleep. I slept like a baby. (In Belgium we say: "slapen als een roos").
Now – August came almost to its end. She had become a real rascal and my husband's good friend and sparing partner.
They seemed almost like two little children, it was funny to see how they played together. When he was taking a nap on the lawn, she slept next to him and so now and then she bit playfully in his ears, then I giggled and encouraged her to do that.
It was such a funny sight!

Picking the naughty boy in his ears!:)
The day that she became three months old my grand daughter, who visited us that day, (not yet 4 years old then) insisted on celebrating this. Of course, Pipke didn't eat fruitcake, but it was a manner to celebrate this event. As you can see in the picture, she was full of joy and cuddling me the whole time. Of course, I had first taken precautions to make sure not to have Pipke's poo on me.

August 25, 1995 just three months old.

At that moment I was in the assumption that she could stay now, that my husband wasn't making a new plan, but ... that wasn't so.
I will reveal his next plan in the following post: Plan C.
See you!