In Casablanca, we have a problem with ducks. The pair of mallards, bought for our son as a Christmas present, arrived on the back of a motorbike, heavily trussed. Judging by the tightness of the knot securing them, we guessed that ducks in Morocco are for Christmas rather than for life (an attitude that seems acceptable seeing as it’s a Muslim country).
Daddy Duck (we made the mistake of allowing the children to name them) has taken an early lead – most probably because Mummy Duck (an unsurprising name given the circumstances) has lost a claw thanks to the rope. Burdened with the responsibility of securing the safety of his hobbling mate, DD has taken them to live in the partially drained swimming pool. With only a couple of feet of water to work with and under the ever watchful eye of the family Labrador who is hopeful of a deepening her relationship with the newcomers, MD has done her best to make the pool water delightful to a duck. She now has it a most satisfactory shade of green.
As duck owners we have become privy to all manner of duck-related expertise that was previously lacking in our lives. We have learned how to corral the pair from the pool onto land, using several broom handles, an old towel and the help of the dog. We now know that a duck can murder certain foe by drowning it, and that a panicked chicken becomes quickly waterlogged and will perish in seconds. We also understand that ducks – especially those in a security lit garden – have no discernible bedtime and no matter how late they turn in, rise early in order to demand their first feed of the day.
For the first few mornings, we used the dawn reveille to our advantage; most often spending the early hours discussing the impressive vocalism of ducks. But now, after a month or so, we find ourselves no longer quite as charmed. The once interesting fact that male ducks don’t quack and that it’s the female who is so able to communicate her desire for an early breakfast, has lost some of its shine. The message is especially unwelcome as it comes from our now unusual pool.
So now, as the call to prayer fades over the ocean and MD begins her own vibrant summons, we find ourselves wondering whether the ducks really are happy living directly under our bedroom window and whether it might not be kinder to follow custom and make ducks just for Christmas.