Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Duck and (re)cover

A new moon in the most sensitive area of your chart means you will be somewhat reclusive today, which is not like you at all. But this is by no means a bad thing as you need to come to terms with the kind of personal issues that only some deep and serious thought can resolve - and you can't do that surrounded by noise and confusion.

I always like to read my New York Post horoscope last. The others (I read five or six) hint of potential and tendency, they warn of influences I have not taken into account, while the Post, which speaks to the latent New Yorker in me usually has some variant of the message: Get off your butt, girl! Just do it.

What am I to make of the above directive from the Post? Yesterday was a quiet day, if somewhat challenging on re-entry to the work-a-day world after a picture postcard July Fourth long weekend. We didn’t go anywhere, we never do. When we live here, where would we go?

It was a weekend for puttering in the garden, test driving the hammock, and on the Fourth proper, sorting almost two thousand ducks for the famous Rotary duck race. At five bucks a pop, it is our largest fundraiser, and although it takes a lot of people to pull it off, most of the local Rotarians have been doing their duck race jobs for years. Duckmaster Ted leads the audit and sorting, ensuring that every ticket sold has a duck and that no duck races ticketless. Gary and the river crew have fine tuned the plastic pipe rigging that narrows down till only one duck at a time can squeeze through.

The barbershop based team hawks tickets at the Parade under the guidance of Rudy, who wears a stunningly awful duck shaped hat no matter how high the temperature soars. Every year at the meeting after the duck race, Rudy gives a happy dollar for the person who sprayed him down or insisted on a break in the shade, but particularly since the falling-off-the-roof episode, many would prefer that he not push the envelope so aggressively. It is in the nature of things that someday there will be a duck race without Rudy, but surely we need not hasten the day.

Back in my garage, where the ducks live year round, bursting forth only for this one annual riparian foray, the audit team works away. It takes five people to do the job, and this year we are fortunate to get a break for lunch before the last minute rush of last tickets. Desultory chat about possibly doing some steps differently fizzles. Certainly I don’t want to be the one to mess with tradition! I am the newbie here, only on my second year of duck racing, and it is restful not to be in charge. It is a shame to miss the parade—I particularly enjoy the many, many fire trucks and the agricultural vehicles on display—but we have ducks to deal with. We work away in the cool garage, in the company of old shepherd Max who is startled and uncharacteristically suspicious to see so many humans in his favorite cool spot.

In need of some appropriate music but with some trepidation, I put on the CDs from the 9/11 memorial concert. It turns out to be fine as long as we skip the first track, Springsteen’s My City in Ruins, which is still too much for me. I am hoping for the uplift I remember of that concert, but I will take my memories of the day itself properly muted, thank you very much.

Suddenly there is our last runner with the last tickets from the barbershop. It is time to go to the river! Too late, I realize this was the time for a top volume blast of the Commitments, Take Me to the River (and Wash Me Down). Maybe a new tradition for next year.

The river bank is teeming with babies, small children and their parents, all making an occasion of the duck race. There's the whistle and a few minutes later, there they come, thousands of tiny plastic ducks around the bend in the river. People are cheering and calling out their duck numbers. It’s over in forty-five minutes. Someone in Texas (imagine!) has won the thousand dollar first prize. I only know one of the winners of the other eleven prizes (a hundred dollars each), and I know he has bought so many duck tickets this year that his winnings scarcely make a dent in his overall contribution.

Roy and Doug scoop up ducks in fishing nets, collecting them in the bottom of a canoe. Small children re pressed into service collecting ducks, and many of them check numbers as they go, hoping to connect with their own duck. One wayward pink duck and one blue one are trapped in the eddies across the river and wait for rescue. These are the ducks you don't want to be yours, but who can blame them for wanting a little longer in the cool river on such a picture perfect Fourth?

Back at my house, the ducks are enjoying a few days on the lawn before next Monday’s sorting party to put them back in their boxes till next year. If we are lucky, Toby will bury only a few.

I snooze through the fireworks. Maybe next year, I will write about how odd it still seems to me that people come park on both sides of the road in front of my house and set up lawn chairs in the hayfields to watch the fireworks. Maybe next year it won’t seem odd, just another July Fourth tradition.

Now we take a breath, a day or maybe two to recover. It is a time for planning, strategizing, and getting ready. Maybe a little more time for play? When we exhale, summer will be almost over.


Jean said...

In general your blog doesn't cry out for pictures, as you paint them very well with words. I rather wish I could see the ducks on your lawn, though.

Karen said...

Would you settle for a photo of the winning duck?

zhoen said...

Do you read Real Astrology?

Oh, this was just ducky!

Karen said...

Sometimes I do!

Jean said...

I only just saw this. Been a bit distracted from blogreading. Oh the duck is sweet, thank you!!