Thursday, June 26, 2008

A Duckling Story

Sometimes I feel like God is sarcastically saying to me, "Think you have nothing to write about?" And then He springs a great story right in my face.

That's what happened yesterday.

After dinner our entire family headed to Target. Brian doesn't usually accompany me on Target trips but because we had to pick up a rather large and heavy Father's Day/birthday gift for his dad, he came with me.

I need to pause this story for just a second to explain where, exactly, our home is located. Trust me, it's important for the story. We live very near a park reserve called Ojibway Park. You've heard me talk before about how it's not uncommon to run into such wildlife as deer. And about a month ago Brian stopped to allow a coyote to cross the street on his way to work. It's odd to see such things in such a suburban setting, but it's rather comforting as well to know we can kind of have the best of both worlds: an urban setting but not too far removed from nature.

When you are entering our development there is one street that has Ojibway Park on one side and a small marshy pond on the other side. This is where we commonly see geese, ducks, herons and every once in awhile a passing deer or coyote.

So on our way back from Target we were driving on this very road when we spotted a cable company's truck pulled over to the side with two burly men standing outside. Ahead of them was a mama Mallard duck and 7 or 8 of her newly hatched babies. And when I say new, I mean NEW. I bet this little guys and gals had just hatched in the past day. The mama was leading her babies from the Ojibway Park side over to the pond side; probably for their very first swim.

As I've told you before, William is very into animals and especially ducks. So I told Brian to pull over so that I could get William out of his carseat so he could have a better view. I told Brian to drive on home and that I would walk home when we were finished.

On the street I struck up a conversation with the cable men. I told them that my son was very into ducks so we too had to pull over and get out to take a peak.

The men told me that they hadn't merely pulled over to take a peak but rather to save their lives.


They said they were driving along this road when they spotted the mama duck standing near the curb squawking uncontrollably. So the men decided to pull over to see what all the fuss was about. When they got near they saw 7 or 8 little ducklings staring up at them from the bottom of the storm sewer drain! You know what I'm talking about, right? Those grates that are on the side of road where all the water runs when it rains really hard? Yep, those ones. Those poor little duckies were just following their mama to the pond when plop, plop, plop. Each of their tiny bodies fell through the slats in the grate.

Well these two men decided they couldn't just leave. So they grabbed some of their tools from their truck and pried off that grate. One of them climbed down the 3 or 4 feet to the bottom of the drain and one by one rescued those baby ducks and returned them to their mama.

But the story doesn't end there.

I listened to the men tell their story while William and I watched the family of ducks scurry across the street on their way to the water. And that mama was in a hurry to get to the safety of the pond. She wasn't holding back for anyone. In the process of her haste three ducklings got left behind because they were too small to make it up the side of the curb. I waited for a while to see what would happen and when it was apparent that mama wasn't coming back and those three babies weren't going to make it up the curb, I took action. I walked over and scooped them up on to the grass hoping they would follow their mama. But the brush was too high and they could no longer see where their mama and the rest of their siblings went so they just sat there huddled in a circle squeaking out in fright.

If I would have been alone I would have gladly braved ticks and mosquito bites to talk those babies through the tall brush and down to the pond. But as it was, I had William with me and I couldn't leave him on the side of the road while I save some ducks.

A few minutes earlier the cable men had decided their work was done and had started to leave. But when one of them saw the trouble these three ducks were in, he knew his drainage climb was not going to be in vain. So he got back out of his truck, scooped up the three ducks, walked through the waist-high brush and gently placed them in the pond. The three ducklings quickly scurried across the water and reunited with the rest of their family.

Yesterday I was once again reminded of the kindness of every day strangers. Two of the most unsuspecting men took 20 minutes, probably at the end of a long workday, to help this mother duck and her itty bitty babies. And as is often said, after seeing this (or reading it!) it made me want to pay it forward. Hopefully it makes you want to do the same!

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