A most shocking and upsetting thing happened this evening. Lala and Lalita disappeared at bedtime. They were nowhere to be found. Curly, alone, and in the usual place, where the stream cascades over the log and flows into the wetlands, looked stressed and upset. Where were the girls? Nevertheless, through habit or self-preservation, I cannot say, he followed protocol and (dutifully?) went into the henhouse on his own without his girls, squeaking more loudly than usual. I called and called forever and ever and searched high and low (even beneath the boxwoods, where Lala used to lay her eggs, thinking that maybe she was conducting some kind of training program for Lalita regarding family traditions ) but no sign of them and it was now dark at 6:00pm. I gave up and was about to e-mail you about their demise when I heard the familiar, usually irritating, but now, longed for, quacking about 20 minutes later. In the pitch dark, illuminated by your little flashlight (one of the more useful purchases you’ve made) I followed the panicky noise. Lala and Lalita were stood at the base of the peach tree, disoriented and trying to get into the henhouse through the chicken wire. Weirdly enough, considering their pea sized brains, I herded them, shining the torch across the Herb Garden down Rhubarb Alley, and they actually scurried along, with agility, speed, and a sense of direction that would put Mapquest to shame, directly into the pen. Moreover, contrary to the usual cajoling and herding efforts required, they couldn’t wait for me to open the door to let them in, and, when I did, there was Curly; waiting and as eager and agitated as a nervous bridegroom. He did the head bobbing thing and ushered them to what I suppose to be their favorite corner. I felt great relief and satisfaction that all was was as it ought to be and, I believe, that even the Senator ( the giant ‘boss-man’ Muscovy alpha male) seemed to express satisfaction over their reappearance and gave a very wide berth to Curly & Company. I shall sleep easier tonight.