The Plaid Duck Sheds His Cape

Linda Ulland of Pequot Lakes, MN

Now fall was in the air and Paul Bunyan decided it was time he went south to meet this guy, Tony Beaver, whom he had heard so much about. You've probably heard of Tony too. Just about the same time Paul was logging the Upper Midwest, Tony was logging in West Virginia and all the timberlands in the south.

Tony had his camp up Eel River in West Virginia, and Paul decided with the cold north winter coming on, the time was just about right to make the trek south. The Plaid Duck and his young family, and all the other plaid ducks and their families, spent quite a bit of time around Paul's camp that first spring and summer. After all, this was the first year they had their new black and white plaid capes. You remember in the spring, Jens Threadbetter, one of Paul's kitchen boys who also made all the camp clothes, made the first cape for the funny-looking duck with the long bill and red eyes so he had something to wear to the debutante ball.

Well, of course by now there were many plaid ducks because they all got black and white capes just like the first Plaid Duck. And that first year they thoughts they'd better stay near Jens, just in case their capes needed some adjustments.

Jens and The Plaid Duck visited every morning while Jens and the other kitchen boys waited, with their bacon-clad feet in the water, for Sourdough Sam to get the griddle ready for them to grease. It was during one of these visits that Jens told The Plaid Duck all about Tony Beaver, and about Paul's plans to head south to meet him. That got the Plaid Duck to thinking. Later he talked to his family, and then the other plaid ducks, and they agreed. It was getting a little chilly and they would head south with Paul and his men.

Well, the day came in October that Paul and his men were all packed and ready to leave camp to visit Tony. Now, Tony knew all about Paul from Big Henry, one of Tony's men who stayed for a while in Paul's camp while visiting his folks up north. That's also how Paul had learned about Tony. So when Big Henry left to return to Eel River, he had heard when Paul intended to start his trip south.

Now, most of you probably know about Tony and his Path. But Paul didn't know about the Path. So just as the men were leaving, there was a new path, stretched out nice and smooth and heading south. They hadn't noticed it before but it looked just fine and heading in the right direction, so on it they went. Well, as soon as the whole crew, including Babe, were on the Path, off it went--breaking loose from the ground and tearing through the woods with Paul and his men hanging on for dear life. Well, the Plaid Duck and all the plaid ducks were mighty surprised as well! You know, it takes them a bit of time to get themselves up from the lake and into the air. So, when the Path sped off with Paul and his crew, the plaid ducks had to get themselves going in a hurry.

That leisurely trip south was anything but--the plaid ducks had all they could do to keep up with Tony's Path. Well, they all landed--the Path with a thud. As quick as it had leaped off the ground, it settled right down at Tony's camp at the Eel River. And the plaid ducks dropped into the Eel River. Well, you can about imagine how hot and tired everyone was, including those plaid ducks. The weather was terribly warm and they had been traveling pretty fast. When Tony saw those plaid ducks, so worn out, and heard they were heading further south, he told them they sure wouldn't need their plaid capes in Florida!

Now they thought and thought about what they could do with those lovely plaid capes. Then next morning, Tony had a solution for them. "You just leave all them capes with me for the winter. Then you can pick 'em up next spring on your way north." And that's exactly what they did. And now you know when you get to Florida in the winter, there won't be any plaid ducks--they'll just look like funny-looking ducks with long bills and red eyes. But in the spring, they'll stop for a visit with Tony and by the time they're back on our lakes, they'll be plaid ducks again.