Friday, 17 January 2014

THE INK BLOT GUEST SPOT: "Summer Sketches" by Vera Alexander

The ducks on the pond in the park always came rushing to the bank when they saw Sharon. In the short time that she had been going there they had learnt that where Sharon was, food was near. Sharon had started feeding them scraps of breads at first. She got a bit worried about this as she seemed to have a vague memory that bread was not really good for them – it swelled in their tummies or something. She couldn't remember if this was really bad or not really good for them so one day when she walked past a pet shop she decided to go in and ask for advice.

As she entered the shop a person walked towards her. The first thing she was aware of was a mop of bright pink hair, and then came the piercings: right eyebrow, left cheek (Ooo that must hurt!), a bar from the outside of one nostril to the other with a chain attaching the bar to a lip piercing. There was also a myriad of piercing in his/her (?) ears. Skinny (very skinny) jeans covered the legs and a deaths head tee shirt and black takkies completed the overall picture.

A pleasant cultured deep voice asked "Can I help you?"

Startled Sharon realised that the voice came from the (now established) gentleman in front of her. A fleeting thought scooted across her mind. "Don't judge a book by its cover!"

"Um yes. I work close to the park and I usually go there at lunch time. One day I still had the crusts of bread when I stood up. I crumpled them and flung the crumbs to the ducks. They soon got used to me and now expect me to feed them. I was just wondering if bread was okay?"

"Not really! A bit is fine as they forage for other things in the water. If you want to vary the diet you could try some fruit. What they don't eat the fruit eaters and monkeys will eat. The fruit will also bring fruit flies which is good and bad. Good for the insect eaters but bad for pollution! You could also take birdseed or special pellets as a change."

"Wow! This is more than I bargained for!" laughed Sharon.

"It's always best to let them forage for food so don't visit them everyday. And remember there are probably others who are also feeding them!"

"Okay – can you give me a small packet of uh…duck pellets did you say?"


Soon Sharon was walking out of the shop clutching the packet ready to experiment the next day.

During lunch the next day Sharon took out the small container of duck pellets and sprinkled them in front of the ducks as they waddled to meet her. At first they were a little bit suspicious. One brave soul waddled up, inspected it then turned to her as if to say "This is not our agreement! Where is the bread?"

Just then a little toddler approached. One hand was clutching her mom's hand and the other hand extended out towards the ducks, clutching a bit of bread. The duck turned its back on Sharon and waddled slowly towards the toddler. As he got closer, she got scared and ducked into her mom's skirts trying to climb up into her mom's arms. Sharon was storing the scene in her mind for future use. Her mom yanked her up and whispered in her ear. The little girl threw the bread as far as she could and then buried her head in her mom's chest, peeping shyly out to see if the duck took the bread. She giggled when she saw him take it.

While Sharon was watching this scene unfold a few of the younger ducks were examining the pellets. One, obviously braver than the rest pecked at a pellet, then pecked again. On the third peck he gulped it into his mouth and swallowed it. The others around him gained confidence and were soon pecking away at Sharon's feet.

In the days that followed they got used to the pellets. Sharon glowed when she noticed that they preferred to be near her than many of the other people offering them food scraps.

Sharon started taking her sketch pad with her when she went to park. So many scenes unfolded there and she had an overpowering need to capture as much as she could.

Vera Alexander

About the Author

Name: Vera Castleman but pen name is Vera Alexander.

I have always wanted to write but unfortunately life happened and writing just got shoved onto the back burner. My 3 year old UK granddaughter came to South Africa for a visit and asked me to write to her when she got back home. And so the Della and Easter series sprang into being. This series is aimed (with gorgeous illustrations by Manuela!) at children under 8 years of age. There are five books in the series all of which are available on Four of the books are available on

I have also written a teen graphic novel called "In the Twinkling of an Eye" and a novella called "Full Circle". Both of these are available on

At present I am writing a novel called "Darkest before Dawn"
If you wish to keep up to date with me you can catch me at: and

1 comment:

  1. I love your duck story - it is so close to my heart as I feed my ducks out back as well. The only thing I have found is that they are territorial. I have two ducks that will not share and have noticed lately that we have duck wars going on as soon as there are more than two ducks out back. Keep writing Vera.