The Bunny Trail story below was my first written story since high school. It was at the coaxing of my Life Coach, Win Harper. I always say that everything has a story. Some are worth telling, some are not. Anyone who knows me knows I like to tell the stories. Win had been after me for a while to write something. He had been my Life Coach for almost a year and had heard many of my stories. I had no idea what to write about. He said to just pick something in my life/house and write about it. So I chose the ducks.
These ducks may seem like simple sixtyish garden decorations, but there’s more of a story to them than that.
When we were kids (there were 5 of us) growing up it seemed like every couple of years my mother’s back would go out. When that happened we got shipped out to various other family members for a week or so. As an adult I sometimes wondered if it was actually a problem with her back or just taking a break from 5 kids(4 boys and me, yikes). Either way, off we went. It was usually the same family members that we went to stay with, although we rotated who we stayed with among them. There was an aunt and her family. They also had a large family and shared a house with the grandparents. Then there was a cousin who had kids. There were a few other various family members that we stayed with on occasion. With some there was no mistaking the fact that we were only there out of family obligation. But, I guess to their credit they stepped up when it was needed. The coveted place to get sent off to was my mother’s aunt (her mother’s sister). Aunt Vilma, even saying her name makes me smile. She was an older relative whose 2 boys were grown up and out of the house. She was right off the boat from Czechoslovakia and one of the sweetest people I remember from my childhood. She always seemed so happy to see us and take care of us. They (Aunt Vilma and Uncle John) always had a bowl full of those little mints you see at the restaurants, at least until we showed up. I have such fond and happy memories of staying with them. She was an awesome cook and an even better baker. Everything was from scratch, no shortcuts. There are certain things that stick out in my mind when I reminisce. She had this old toy fort, Fort Ticonderoga. Boy we spent hours playing with that. She had a little cast iron dog (actually a bank) that sat in the doorway of her kitchen. She also had a plastic momma duck and 3 little yellow ducklings that were always in her garden. Everything was fair game and available for us to play with.
OK, fast forward many years. I am a long time adult and Aunt Vilma has since passed. I am at a customer’s house out by Syracuse when I see the same momma duck and ducklings in their garden. All these happy warm memories and feelings came rushing back. I asked the customer if I could buy the set. I explained why I wanted it. She thought about it and said no, her grandchildren enjoy playing with them. I said I understood. So I continued to look for my own set of ducks. Not an all out search but looking on craigslist when I thought about it, checking out yard sales and flea markets. One day when I was at a flea market I came across the 3 ducklings for sale. No momma duck, but the ducklings. I of course had to shell out that whole dollar for a piece of my childhood. Now I at least had part of the set. It was about a year later when I was at another customer’s house and saw the momma duck in the garden in front of the house. No baby ducks, just the momma. I told the customer I had kind of a crazy question and asked if I could buy the duck. I explained why I wanted it and told a short version of time spent with my aunt. He said he had to talk to his wife since the duck was hers. He came out a couple minutes later and told me his wife said I could have the duck but they would take no money for it. He said she had another one and she was happy to help me recapture childhood memories. I promised to keep the momma duck with her ducklings in my flower garden where I can see them every morning. They have been there every summer since and they get stored indoors for the winter. I still get warm fuzzies when I see them.
It’s amazing how our brains work. How a simple thing can trigger a memory from long ago times and instantly lift your spirit. It could be a song, a smell, a word or phrase or even a familiar action. I truly believe that our past is tied to our present and definitely to our future. I will work to hold onto the memories of all my bunny trails in life.