It could be worse

By Helen Row Toews

June 29, 2017 12:00 AM

It could be worse
“Rain again—in 70 years of farming I’ve never seeded the fields so late!”
Dad shook his head in wonderment as he leaned on the sink, and gazed out the kitchen window where streams of water had begun their descent for yet another day.
He turned away shaking his head, but catching my eye, a smile slowly widened under his bushy, gray moustache. “Ah well,” he said with customary optimism, “It could be worse.” 
I confess there are times when people with so much bloody, bright-eyed cheerfulness are very annoying to those of us looking forward to a day spent in a morose downward spiral of self-pity.
However, as I’ve always found, father knows best. It’s healthiest, for mind and body, to focus on the silver lining—hard as it may be to find.
From a duck’s point of view, the weather’s great. I see them happily frolicking in sloughs and ditches each day as I rumble down country roads in my bus.
Carefree and light of heart, they paddle in large clusters by the road to mull over the day’s events, or assemble, gossiping in ditches.
“Have you seen the new nest Bert and Harriet built? I mean seriously—who uses mud and sticks anymore?”
Serenely they paddle about in water mere inches from my tires, calling eagerly to friends, “Sally, Maurice, get the kids and come on in, the water’s fine.”
Naturally, just as I pull abreast of the laughing crowd, Sally turns.
Spotting the enormous yellow monster thundering down upon them, (or so it must seem to a duck) she leaps into the air, quacking loudly, “Alert, alert! Everyone out of the pool!”
Then, flapping wildly, with crazed indecision, everyone rises awkwardly into the air, veering off in the safest possible direction—directly in front of the bus. Dumb ducks.
Mud hens are worse. They often collect in small groups at water’s edge in the gravel, muttering amongst themselves.
I advanced upon a few of them the other day as they stood, huddled together arguing.
“Look, we need to get to the other side okay,” said Jim Mud Duck, self-appointed leader of the group.
He strutted importantly around the doubtful throng, “I say we act now.”
And flying is out of the question.
I’ve given this a lot of thought, and our best course of action is to run out like a pack of lunatics in front of that bus.”
His wife piped up from the sidelines in loud accusatory tones, “Cousin Frankie followed you on one of your hair-brained schemes last week, and we all know how that ended!”
They turned to stare at several mangled black feathers protruding from the mud.
“Alright, I admit that wasn’t the best plan, but I tell you I know what I’m doing now,” Jim’s voice rang with conviction as he glared at his foolish wife with beady eyes.
The troop surged around him with renewed confidence (mud ducks aren’t all that bright).
They paused a second more, waiting for just the right moment to fling themselves into oncoming traffic.
Heads bobbing, eyes vacant and trusting, they milled around their fearless leader. 
“This is it!” he cried, suddenly lunging onto the road.
Without hesitation, they rushed forward as one, necks craning, little legs propelling them like pistons as they ran pell-mell under my wheels to certain death.
Oh, don’t worry, I didn’t actually hit the silly creatures.
I was expecting their heedless dash across the road and had slowed.
But if I hadn’t…
As we can see, this wet weather suits some of us just fine.
And if it doesn’t, sadly there isn’t much we can do about it anyway, so you might just as well sit back, read the newspaper and have another cup of coffee.
It could always be worse—be thankful you aren’t a duck.

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