A Tale Of Ducks And Tomatoes

By Laura Miller | July 9, 2022
Image by Dmitrii Anikin
by Laura Miller
July 9, 2022

Some of our fondest memories come from our childhood and without exception, my fondest gardening story occurred when I was young. As was common in those days, I had received a pet duckling as an Easter present. I proudly named my duckling “Beebop,” and he quickly became my best buddy.

Beebop the Duck

Now ducks are one of the species which bond with their parents through a process called imprinting. Unfortunately, domestic breeds of ducks are often born in commercial hatcheries and don’t have the luxury of imprinting upon their mothers. In Beebop’s case, he imprinted upon me.

This meant Beebop would follow me as if I were his mother. Whenever I was outside, Beebop was with me. He’d follow me to the bus stop in the morning and he’d be waiting for me when I got off the bus in the afternoon. In the eyes of a young child, I saw Beebop as a loyal and dedicated pet.

My mother didn’t share my vision. You see, Beebop had a proclivity for garden ripe vegetables. Left to his own accord, Beebop would sneak into the vegetable garden and help himself to my mother’s ripe tomatoes and mature peppers.

Ducks and Vegetables

Thinking back, I realize Beebop must have been the Einstein of his species. Upon hearing the latch of the screen door click open, this smart little duck would quickly run from the garden. Once he was out in the open of the grass lawn, Beebop would flatten himself against the ground and creep up the hill toward the pen where he safely slept at night.  

Now a fully mature white Pekin duck was in no way camouflaged by the short, green grass of a suburban lawn. In the eyes of a child though, watching him sneak out of the garden was quite humorous. A quick drink from his bowl would wash away the juicy remnants of the tomato he had been eating and the adults in my life were none the wiser.

That is, until my mother would go to the garden to pick veggies for dinner. With the half-eaten tomatoes and peppers in her hand, she would scold both me and the duck. In return, I would adamantly defend my feathered friend. Any animal could have eaten those tomatoes, I would say. Beebop was probably in the garden eating bugs. 

Yet, there was one piece of evidence that even I couldn’t refute. You see, whenever Beebop ate hot peppers, he’d get the hiccups. A duck sneaking up the hill with the hiccups was too funny for even my mother to resist. As she laughed, the anger melted away and Beebop was forgiven.

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