Spring Creations

Part II

The Deliveries

On Tuesday evening of delivery week, Devon Duck visited. As mentioned before, Devon and his wife Dahlia and children Declan, Darma, and Deirdre provided the Ballymore residents with a delivery service. They had a small raft, which they kept at their dock on the island. The raft had five hooks on both its front and back edges. Harnesses could be connected to each hook, and the ducks could then tow the raft.

When the swans procured any items, they left them in a shed near the ducks’ dock. Twice a week, weather permitting, the ducks delivered everything to the residents. They also made deliveries between residents. If the item was small and needed immediately, they would use air-mail.

This evening Devon had come to discuss the upcoming delivery of the flower baskets and clothes. The scheduled day was Thursday. It would be a large delivery, so all five ducks would participate.

Devon said, “We can be here at 7 bongs to load the raft. As always, we’ll provide covers to protect the flowers and other items.”

Reginald said, “Very good. We’ll arrange everything on the raft in the order in which they’ll be delivered. I would like to begin at the island. Then, go to the southwest end of the pond and travel clockwise around.”

“That’ll be fine as long as the wind cooperates, but if it shifts, we’ll have to change that route,” responded Devon.

Occasionally, the wind wouldn’t let them travel in the direction they wanted.

“I understand,” said Reginald. “So, we’ll see you early on Thursday. Thank you very much for coming.”

“You’re welcome, and I wish you all a good evening,” said Devon, and he left.

The family sat down at the dining table to finish weaving the flower baskets. Twelve had already been completed, so there were only three left to do. After the baskets were weaved, they were painted a rich chocolate-brown colour. Rhonda finished making the ribbons and bows. Tomorrow would be a busy day. The flowers needed to be picked and the baskets arranged.

Wednesday morning was cloudy and cool. It didn’t feel much like spring. A breeze rustled the flowers in the garden. Each one seemed to be saying, “Pick me, pick me.” Rhonda decided the makeup of the baskets. There would be tulips, lilies, daffodils, marigolds, Queen Annes Lace, and ferns for a base. Coloured eggs were nestled between the flowers. The whole family participated in picking the flowers and creating the arrangements.

The swans had delivered a large box of eggs on Monday, and the children had hard-cooked them last evening. They were ready to be coloured. Rhonda chose several food colour dyes from those she used for cake frosting. The eggs were divided into four groups, and soon there were purple, green, yellow, and pink eggs rolling around the table.

After adding the eggs to the baskets, she carefully attached the ribbons and bows. By 4 bongs fifteen gorgeous masterpieces sat on the dining table. Everything else was also ready; so finally everyone could relax.

The following morning, the ducks arrived with the raft. Rhonda invited them in for tea and toast before beginning the trip around the pond. The weather was similar to Wednesday’s, but the breeze was lighter and coming from the west.

Devon proclaimed the weather acceptable when he said, “So far, so good.”

The flowers, clothes, and other items were carefully loaded on the raft in the assigned order. The ducks made sure that the load was evenly distributed. Delivering flowers to the bottom of the pond was not a good idea. There were fourteen deliveries in all, including themselves.

At 8 bongs, they left for their first stop, the swans. As they approached, the swans were waiting on their dock for them. All of the animals knew that today was delivery day and would be home if they could.

“Welcome! Welcome!” Sean said as Deirdre tied the raft up to the dock. Everyone hugged. Hugging was not the normal custom, but it felt like a special occasion.

Reginald gave them their new clothes. Sean had ordered a lounging robe, a large umbrella, and a water-proof head mask. The umbrella would be used for shade, probably on the dock. Stoddard also got a head mask plus a pair of slippers.

The head masks would make flying in the rain more comfortable and safer. When they needed to fly in the rain (which they tried to avoid), water would run up their beaks and right into their eyes. They could blink a lot, but it wasn’t comfortable and was unsafe. One time, during heavy rain they bumped into each other as they were trying to clear their eyes. Neither was injured but, in general, it’s not a good idea to crash into other swans when you’re flying. The masks were specially designed to divert water away from their eyes. The swans were eager to test them, but that would have to wait for a rainy day.

It wasn’t necessary to try on the clothes to see if they fit properly because they and the other animals had been to Reginald’s shop at least once for that purpose.

Then, Rhonda gave them their basket. “Oh, how beautiful,” exclaimed Sean.

“Thank you so much,” said Stoddard.

With that, the first delivery was complete, and everyone was very pleased.

Deirdre untied the raft and they said goodbye. Their next stop was Grenby Groundhog’s hut on the southwest shore.

They soon saw Grenby’s weather flags flapping in the breeze. Green-Blue-Purple were the highest three. Good weather predicted. They could also see Grenby in his chair wearing his usual outfit (red and white striped pajamas with green bathrobe, if you forgot). Very attractive, if you like that sort of thing.

Grenby didn’t rise from his chair as they approached.

He said, “Ah, it must be flower day. Time goes by so fast. Just yesterday it was Wednesday.” He laughed.

The animals smiled and greeted Grenby. He had ordered a pair of green and white striped pyjamas for summer. He also ordered a hammock. While, technically, not clothes, it was something Reginald could make. Grenby said he would attach one end of it to the flagpole and the other end to a post on his dock.

“Then, I can flap in the wind, just like my flags.” Everyone laughed.

Rhonda gave Grenby his flower basket.

He took it, winked and said, “Do you think they are better with salt or pepper? Just kidding, just kidding! Thank you.”

After they were back on the water, Robbie said, “Grenby is so weird!” The other children nodded in agreement.

“Yes, he’s different, but he means well, and he’s a very good weather forecaster,” their mother reminded them.

Next on the route were Malcolm and Maeve Mole and their children Melrose and Merwin. The moles had set up a table on their dock, and it was draped with a white tablecloth. On the table were tea and Maeve’s famous strawberry jam cookies. Although the visitors had eaten recently, they knew they couldn’t resist this treat. Even the ducks were gurgling with anticipation, and they don’t usually eat something like strawberry jam.

The moles loved their new clothes and the flowers. They had been very busy tunnelling and had worn out most of their work clothes. Everyone got waterproof overalls and gloves. The gloves had a hole in the end of each ‘finger’. The holes were for their claws to stick through so that they could dig effectively. Merwin also received his new spring jacket.

Maeve placed the flower basket in the centre of the table, and it looked very elegant. She invited them to sit down and enjoy the delicacies. Afterwards, she gave them each a few extra cookies to take home.

Now it was time to visit the Weasels, Wilde and Wilder, on the west shore. The weasels were the unofficial security guards of Ballymore. They were fairly young and tended to be mischievous. The ducks tied the raft up to their dock. No one was in sight, so they went up to the cottage door and knocked.

After a brief period Wilde opened the door.

“Oh, we didn’t think you would be here so soon,” he said. “Please come in.”

They entered and Wilder rose from the table to greet them.

“Hello, everyone. We’ve been looking forward to getting our new security gear.”

They had ordered sturdy cloth bags, tan military style outfits, and black boots. They would use the bags to collect nuts and berries from the woods or so they said. The new outfits were needed to improve their effectiveness as security guards.

“There are times when we need to be stealthy, and these will be a great help. I have an idea to add green splotches to them. Then, they’ll be even more effective,” said Wilde. “Thank you very much.”

They didn’t seem that interested in the flowers but did thank Rhonda for them.

After everyone was back on the raft, Rhonda commented to Reginald that she didn’t see why the weasels needed to be more stealthy. To her, they seemed pretty sneaky already. She was not so sure about the use of the bags either.

Reginald said, “Eventually, we’ll find out if they’re up to something. We always do.” He laughed.

The ducks pulled the raft northward to Mrs. Porcupine’s cottage. Mrs. Petunia Porcupine provided fruits, vegetables, and baked goods to the residents. She graciously welcomed them to her home. Of course, she offered more tea and pastry. This time they had to decline and explained why.

“Well, at least I can give each family a nice strawberry pie to take home,” she said. They happily accepted this goody.

Reginald unpacked Petunia’s new clothes, a pair of pink overall jeans and two spring bonnets. Overall jeans were very popular in Ballymore.

“Oh, they’re so beautiful!” she exclaimed. “Thank you.”

She also marveled at the flower arrangement.

As they were leaving, Petunia enquired, “Will you be going to see Dr. Brigit soon?”

“Yes, she is our next visit,” answered Reginald.

“Would you be so kind as to deliver this pie to her. I think she is having a special dinner tonight.”

“We’ll be happy to,” said Reginald.

He took the fresh, warm pie and they were off.

The following five deliveries to Dr. Brigit, Bartholomew, the bluebirds, Morris Muskrat, and beavers were uneventful but very much appreciated by all.

The frogs’ cottage was on the southeast shore, so the ducks began to tow the raft to the west. The westerly breeze was a little stronger, and they had to paddle strenuously. It helped that most of the deliveries had been completed, and so the raft was lighter. The Frogs (Farley and Fionna and children Finn and Faith) were the Ballymore artists. They came to Ballymore about five years ago, and their art has been quite popular. Everyone has at least one painting in their home. Typically, they are asked to paint family or community events. Everyone but Finn painted. He was still young and more interested in “adventures”.

The frogs’ lived in a normal looking cottage, from the outside. The inside looked like a swimming pool. With the exception of the small kitchen, dining area, and art studio, there was water everywhere. Large lily pads floated on the water. The frogs used them as seats and beds. Like the beavers’ home, their cottage had a second entrance that was underwater.

The frogs had ordered dry-suits. A dry-suit is the opposite of a wet-suit, which keeps water out. The frogs preferred to stay wet. If they were planning on being away from the water for a long time, they would thoroughly soak themselves and put on their dry-suits. The suits worked well, but they probably wouldn’t use them much.

On to the chipmunks’ home. What can be said about the chipmunks? Foolish, light-hearted, irresponsible, fun-loving, good-hearted, helpful? Yes, they were all of those things and more. The chipmunks did not have a specific trade. They helped out on many different projects and were happy to do so. Last month’s kite riding antics were a good example of their outlook on life. The parents, Charles and Cheryl, had mellowed some with age but were still kids at heart. The chipmunks saw the raft arriving and rushed down to meet it. They clamoured aboard and grabbed their new clothes (swimming trunks) and the flower basket. Charles and Cheryl apologised for the excitement and thanked Rhonda and Reginald for everything.

The last delivery was to their neighbours, the squirrels. The Squirrels (Sedgewick and Sofie and children Shane and Seely) lived in a treehouse. Thankfully, the squirrels met them on the dock so they didn’t have to climb the steps. It had been a long day.

The squirrels wanted walking boots for spring. They had recently begun to go on long hikes, and they needed to protect their paws. Their most recent hike was south to the church in Waterford hamlet. The squirrels saw the church and its bell but didn’t enter the hamlet as they had no desire to be seen.

The deliveries were finally complete. It had been a tiring but satisfying day. The ducks were the most exhausted since they had towed the raft all around the pond. The final part of the trip was to drop the rabbits off at their dock. The only items left on the raft were for the ducks.

The westerly breeze had increased further, and the ducks struggled to pull the raft against it. Devon yelled back, “We may have to zigzag our way to your dock. The wind is quite strong.”

Then, suddenly, the raft began to move forward faster. Neither the wind speed nor its direction had changed. It was as if some invisible force was helping. Everyone was surprised, but no one questioned the good fortune. In a few minutes they were at the rabbits’ dock.

After docking, Devon said, “Sometimes there are strong currents near the surface. I think we just got lucky.”

No one noticed the large dark shape moving away from the raft under the water.

The rabbits thanked and hugged the ducks. The ducks left for their home and a well earned rest. Fortunately, the direction to their home on the island was mostly with the wind.

The tired Rabbit family went inside and prepared a light dinner of soup, lettuce, and bread. Afterwards, they fell asleep without even trying.