Jack’s Spring Break happened this week. While my men worked at the family farm in Troup, TX, I kicked some dust up of my own. I cleaned my 17 year old son’s room. The debris from the cleanup warranted machinery which, instead of returning to the garage, I crammed atop the dryer and shut the door. When John returned home and began his laundry I grabbed my crap pile of tools to return to their rightful spot.
Hands full, I hipped-open the door knob (they don’t lie) and was stunned by the sight of our Lab chasing a baby wood duck. With his teeth. I screamed bloody murder and in my nightgown and morning hair a-blazing I slung my load, snatched the baby and nestled it protectively to my chest. John came running and as usual said something about the neighbors calling the Police about domestic abuse, blah, blah, blah.
Since I’ve seen that Dawn commercial like a 1,000 times I consider myself a waterfowl-recovery expert. John told me to Google proper procedure for duckling care and agencies who would help so I immediately introduced my chihuahuas to the orphan because that was way more fun. Realizing that my duck-whispering dreams were temporarily coming true he gave me my moment and did the due diligence himself.
John looked outside and thought he saw the mother in search of her baby. We kenneled the dogs and let Ducks Bentley out back to see if she would come get him. No sign. He wandered to the front yard with that heartbreakingly displaced cry and no luck. He hopped down the street and I absolutely could not just leave the hatchling to chance with all of the cats and dogs on our street. I continued to walk Eastward but lost sight of him. Eyes closed, I honed in on a faint cheep and kept walking until I saw him.
My friend knew a Veterinarian who rehabs ducklings for the state and said he would take care of it. My heart was satisfied that I had done my duty as a foster parent and he was in good hands. That afternoon when I called to see how the re-homing was going, I got some alarming news. The Vet could not take Ducks and so my friend set him free on a nearby lake. He checked on him later that day and said he looked ok but that if he did not find ducks of his own kind soon that he wouldn’t make it for long. Oh no.
I dropped the phone and headed for the Elks Lodge Lake a few blocks from our home where Ducks had been released. Not letting the “Members and Friends of Members” sign dissuade me, I blazed up the entrance. To my shock this was no pond. It was a LAKE lake. My heart sank. I walked down the boat ramp and called for Ducks Bentley. Looking high and low I spent 15 minutes calling for him. No duckling anywhere.
Walking along the wooded shore I prayed and came to peace with the fact that if I could not find Ducks Bentley that God was just going to have to look out for him. I am a hopelessly optimistic realist I guess. I returned to my car and drove further down the shore. I did not see another entry point for the lake and a foreboding chain link fence blocked entry to the rest of the lakefront. I did see a jon boat but I didn’t want to push my luck with trespassing and theft. One misdemeanor at a time is my mantra.
In the distance I spotted a pier and parked my car. Getting out, I sloshed through the saturated grass toward the clearing, calling for Ducks Bentley all the while. I scanned the watery horizon for a bright yellow and black wood duckling yet saw nothing. As I called, the mature ducks swam farther and farther away from me. It dawned on me what an absurd a needle-in-a-haystack endeavor this was and I did not even know why I felt so compelled to find him. Looking for the positives, I reminded myself that at least I had tried.
I spent 10 more minutes alternately calling and listening near the pier. I thought I heard a faint cheeping amid the throngs of other dusky nature sounds. The cheep was weak yet growing stronger. I set my glance in the cry’s direction but I saw nothing. West to East, North to South I searched for what my ears believed to be the echo of my orphaned acquaintance. There was no duckling in sight but the ever-amplified cheep fueled my hope that there would be.
Then like a winning lottery ticket I saw a tiny yellow and black speck round a bend across the water and paddle straight for me. This was crazy! I got louder and louder and screamed “Grammy’s here for you! Come to Grammy!” Grammy is my self-designation for all the creatures of the world form dogs to fish and now expanding to the world of waterfowl. Ducks paddled closer and closer and my shock increased.
Maneuvering awkwardly through the lily pads, up came my foster-duckling. He ambled on shore shaking beads of water off and I stood still as not to scare him. He promptly sat on my foot and lifting him, I began to cry at the completely bizarre chain of events. I texted John a picture of my ugly-cry reunion and understandably John was ecstatic over my good fortune. “So, what are you going to do with him?” He asked. I answered that I would find an agency to raise him with his species but we have to stabilize the little guy at least for the night.
I opened the car and sat Ducks Bentley on my lap. He hiked up into my elbow pit and rested, exhausted form his wearisome day. I got an aquarium, a light, grass and meal worms for Ducks which I floated atop the water to teach him to hunt. John engineered the heat lamp and we arranged his habitat carefully. I set a clock next to the duckling to simulate a mother’s heartbeat and turned on the radio for some white noise. The song that came on? “The Dance,” by Garth Brooks. And, no, I did not dance with Ducks.
Today I am looking for a wood duck habitat / agency to take him and reunite him with his people. He needs to learn how to be a duck and I am of no help there. He is precious but he deserves to live happy and free. While I have loved living out a Modern Family episode, Ducks belongs somewhere else. Still, I will never forget this teeny tiny little Ducks Bentley who swam a lake to get back to me.