Back at the Ranch | September 2016

By Anna Mitchael

How to Keep Your Ducks out of the Kitchen

Bless and release sounds like a fly fisherwoman’s trick. But I learned it far from a stream, smack dab in the middle of a chain restaurant in Central Texas. The closest I was going to get to a fish was if it showed up in a stick.

I was having lunch with a friend who had recently delivered her first baby. She was tired, I could tell. Even the bun on her head seemed exhausted and was leaning a bit to the left. But as she leaned across the table, her eyes were clear.

“One thing has been getting me through the sleepless nights,” she said, her voice low.
I was ready for her to lay it on me. A great new book. A website that would slash my productivity for at least the next 24 hours.

“Bless and release,” she whispered.

I waited for her to continue. But that appeared to be the bulk of the revelation.
“Bless and release?” I repeated.

“Yes,” she said, still whispering. “It’s so easy. You take what’s stressing you, bless it, and then,” she sent an arm sailing off into the distance, “release.”

“Is bless and release a secret?” I asked.

She looked confused and shook her head no.

“I just wondered, you know, with all the whispering.”

She closed her eyes and put her hands on her cheeks, exasperated. “I didn’t mean to whisper,” she said. “It’s always whisper or baby talk or whisper or baby talk — ”

I didn’t like where this was going. Lunch was supposed to be uplifting, not a push over a cliff. “Hey, hey,” I stopped her. “Bless and release?”

She paused, then nodded. After a moment one of her hands went west. I couldn’t help but notice it was in the direction of the cocktail bar.

Apparently, she got bless and release from a yoga teacher. Who got it from her mother down in Corpus. And I’m guessing the mother got it from a preacher. I don’t know if my Pinterest page is wearing me down with inspirational mottos in neon letters. Maybe it’s my obsession with reading every church sign I drive past in the country. Or just living in the country. But I do come across a lot of sayings these days, and you have to be careful because quips are like hairstyles. What works for one person can make the next appear to be Pollyanna. On Prozac. And organic kimchi.

But then a couple of days later I walked outside to find our ducks, the six creatures who were precious, poufy puffs just a few months ago had waddled their grownup, gangly selves to the front porch. There they left six foul presents all in a perfect line. As I looked at those packages I saw my future unfold — cleaning duck droppings off the porch for all my live-long days.

I was about to go inside and text my Cajun uncle for a duck gumbo recipe when suddenly it occurred to me: bless and release. My kids chase those ducks every day. Maybe they were on to something. I grabbed the broom and yelled blessings at my feathered frenemies all over our yard. But they’re fast and know how to skid beneath the low fences that I can’t get under so, lucky for them, I never did release.

Anna Mitchael is the author of Rattlesnake Stories, the new follow-up to the Kindle Single bestseller Rooster Stories. Both are available on

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