Fenella the Duck Barbara Pyett © 2013
Singing along to their favourite song, the car suddenly stops. ‘Oh no!’ Dad says. ‘We’ve run over a duck!’ He got out and moved the mother duck to the side of the road.
A little duckling stood all alone. ‘Can we take it home?’ chorused the children.
‘Remember we live in an apartment upstairs; we cannot possibly look after a duckling,’ Mum replies. ‘We can’t leave it here, it will get run over and die!’
‘Well,’ said Dad, ‘I guess the best thing we can do is to take it to a park where there is a pond with other ducks. Maybe they will adopt this poor little orphan.’ ‘We can come back another day to see how it is getting along.’
The children decide to call the duckling Fenella. They really don’t want to leave her, but it is a beautiful park and there are lots of other ducks.
When the family comes back to visit Fenella, Will says, ‘Oh how sad, she is all alone!’
‘I don’t think the other ducks want anything to do with her,’ says Hazel. Finn remembered to bring some duck food.
They have tears in their eyes when they have to leave.
Fenella hides amongst the kangaroo grass and the Acacias, below a large sculpture. She has to learn to find food for herself.
When Fenella waddles up to the café in the park she is shooed away, because the café staff don’t want her messing on the patio. At weekends, when Joan is on duty, she sends children down to the lake with breadcrumbs. Watching the other ducks Fenella soon learns to scavenge for food herself.
Sometimes at night Fenella is very scared. There are foxes that roam the park. She swims out to the island in the lake. The other ducks are less scary than the foxes! She hides, hoping that the other ducks will not peck her.
Fenella spends her days scratching in the mud finding her food. She is unaware that she is getting bigger. She loves it when children visit the park and throw breadcrumbs. It reminds her of the family that brought her here.
Fenella is no longer shy and her sleek coat of white feathers is mirrored in the lake as she swims. ‘Wow, she looks big’, cries Will. (pictured: Hazel and Finn pointing showing their parents, when they arrive back in spring).
‘Look at Fenella swimming with that handsome drake.’ ‘She’s followed by a clutch of little ducklings,’ says Dad. ‘Aren’t they beautiful?’ says Mum ‘Let’s count them together, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9.’
‘’I think the drake looks like Frederick, ‘ says William. ‘I’m going to name the ducklings then too,’ says Hazel.
‘We can name three each, because 3×3=9.’
‘OK, my turn, says Hazel, ‘what about: Eloise, Aurelia and Flynn? ‘Good,’ says Will, ‘my three can be: Sonny, Rory and Jack.’
‘Your turn Finn,’ they shout together. ‘I’ll call them: Tove, Ty and Mackie.’
They all watch as the ducks swim around in circles with the ducklings paddling hard to keep up. It’s good to know that Fenella won’t be lonely anymore, now that she has such a large family!’ says Jack.
‘That’s great,’ says Dad as he packs up the picnic, ‘let’s go for a walk and look at the other sculptures, before we say goodbye and go home.’
This story was written after we’d been caretakers at McClelland Gallery in Langwarrin Victoria, Australia. A duckling was brought to the gallery’s lake, which inspired this story. After completion, I thought it was a bit like ‘The Ugly Duckling’, but hopefully it is different enough to stand on its own.