By Nina Keenam
Years ago when I was a reporter at a weekly newspaper, I found myself with an assignment to set up a photograph of a cute little child with a dozen or so baby ducks. At first, it did not sound too complicated to me. A nice couple who worked at the newspaper had some ducklings. When I approached them about using them, I was pleased that they also offered their two-year-old niece for the picture.
All I needed to do was tell them when and where to bring the child and the ducklings. It was set up. Well, almost. How could I keep a child and a dozen tiny fowl still long enough to shoot a picture? Then it came to me. Of course, have the little one watching them in my grandson’s swimming pool. I did not realize what it would take to set up the pool, allowing myself only 30 minutes to get it ready. It was in my son’s garage with a pull out and swing up door arrangement. I struggled until I got it halfway up. It was too dangerous to leave hanging like that, so I kept jumping and pushing on it until I got it to stick. Whew, I was already tired.
I dragged the pool close to some daffodils in bloom. Then I discovered the hose I was going to use was not long enough to reach the pool. I looked around for something to carry water in and spotted two empty coal scuttles and a faucet behind an azalea bush. I connected the hose and turned the water on full blast to begin filling them. I had no idea his water pressure was so much stronger than at my house. The hose danced all over the yard and pointed in my direction. I zigged when I should have zagged, and got soaked on one leg and foot. Once I got the hose in hand, I decided to rinse out the pool, so I filled one of the scuttles to take care of that.
Five scuttles later of turning the hose on and off, filling two at a time, and lugging them down four steps, I finally had enough water to hold the 12 little ducks. It was their first time in that much water. They took to it immediately. The little girl stood at the side of the pool, watching and calling them and splashing her hands in the water. Six adults kept telling her to smile. I focused my camera and shot a whole roll of film, with hope that several good pictures would result.
Would you believe I cannot remember how those photos turned out? Well, I do remember dragging my tired self back to the news office. I told my editor about the difficulties I experienced. When I suggested I needed the rest of the afternoon off to recuperate, he ignored my request. Instead he suggested that my story would make a good column subject.
Columnist Nina Keenam may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.