They arrived unannounced, without fanfare, and made themselves at home. I wasn’t expecting guests that day, much less the pair of ducks that settled in my back yard.
I’m not in a neighborhood that attracts waterfowl. I live in a small community of approximately 25 homes that is surrounded by farmland. In the rear, my home backs up to a church. When my husband and I originally bought the house, that plot of ground was comprised of acres of fertile crops. The local farmer had a habit of plowing at night using the headlights on his tractor. I never did figure out that routine, except maybe it had something to do with moon phases.
But back to my unexpected guests. Since we’ve lived here, we’ve had an assortment of critters stroll by at one time or another. Like most semi-rural communities, we have our share of squirrels, chipmunks, rabbits, skunks, ground hogs and hawks. We’ve also had deer, fox, pheasant, turkey vultures and even a colorful peacock. But we’ve never had ducks.
So it was a surprise to look out the back door and see this.
I immediately started wondering where they came from, how they ended up there and what their plans were. It’s the same way my mind works when I conjure up characters. Of course the drake (hero) was courting the female (heroine). She appeared to be standoffish, so maybe he’d ticked her off by eying up some floosy hen. Or maybe he’d been wheedling for a roll in the pond (or my back yard) and she wasn’t in the mood.
On the other hand she might have been running from some vindictive mallard and our hero flew in to protect her, the duck in shining armor. Maybe they were brother and sister or friends from childhood, embroiled in a mystery that had them on the run. Could they be clones escaping their creators or doppelgangers fleeing the sorcerer who’d conjured them into existence? Maybe they’d time-warped from another dimension and mistakenly arrived in my yard when they should have landed somewhere else.
As I was busy spinning possibilities, hubby and I left and hit the grocery store. When we came back, loaded down with seafood, 99% lean ground turkey, broccoli, chips. Greek yogurt and coffee (the essentials in life), we spied the ducks three doors down across the street. They’d separated with the male in the front yard and the female on the other side of the driveway. A lover’s spat?
I never did discover the answer as it was time to unload the groceries and cart them inside. If I want an ending, I’ll have to write one…or at the very least, take some of those ideas and spin them into a story for later.
I certainly didn’t expect to find character inspiration in a pair of ducks that materialized in my back yard, but that’s the unexpected. A writer’s paradise.
Where do you find your inspiration? Do you ever stumble over character and/or story ideas where you least expect them?