If you'll excuse the cheap wordplay, I'd like to say I have my ducks in a row this morning. Actually, they have them themselves in a row across from the cottage. You might note how a couple are staring my way. You can take it from me that most of the rest are keeping an eye on things surreptitiously. This is not a matter of duck distrust, but rather duck decorum. The rowed-up mallards are all waiting for me to toss out a few scoops of cracked corn. Breakfast! We all know what's going on, yet most of the waddling herd believe that feigned disinterest is the proper demeanor; apparently it's considered unseemly behavior to appear too eager and attentive toward the hand that feeds you.
Fine. I'm willing to allow them their uppity moment. I'll fill the big feeders first with sunflower seeds. Then I'll take care of putting fresh suet cakes in the wire cages for the woodpeckers. After that, I'll sprinkle a bit or cracked corn on stumps and rocks for the cardinals and sparrows…and then I'll pretend to go back inside, duck severing apparently forgotten.
Will there be little gasps of alarm from the overlooked waterfowl? A round of anxious quacking?
I hope so. An occasional comeuppance does everyone good. "Lighten up, you mangy featherballs," I'll tell them when I reappear, grinning, a minute later. "It was only a joke."
Then I'll toss them their allotted scoops of cracked corn over the bank—and probably an extra one to make up for my good-humored trickery. One does not want to run afoul (or would that be afowl?) of one's ducks. The last thing I need is a line of moody mallards.