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May 17, 2010

A few weeks ago, on a normal sunny Tuesday morning I left work for a couple minutes to get a cup of coffee. I generally make coffee at home but that morning I had run out of time.  And being the coffee snob I am, I drove not to the nearest coffee place, but to one that had exactly what I wanted…more milk and chocolate than coffee. 

I was driving back to work with my coffee when I got to a busy intersection with a McDonalds, a big box grocery and gas station and Best Buy store.

THIS busy intersection

There were about ten cars all stopped at a green light. I could see something small and white in the middle of the road, not moving. I thought it was a McDonald’s bag crumpled up in the road. A woman up at the front of the line of cars got out of her car and walked around it, looking underneath and around. She must have been satisfied with whatever she was looking for and got back in her car. Just then, I saw a tiny little duck dart across the busy street. It was running back and forth under cars and stopped for a minute in the shade of another car. The duck made it into the gas station parking lot safely and the cars in the road started moving again. As I inched forward, I saw that the white object in the road was not litter.  It was a duck. It was the mommy duck. It had been hit by a car and was lying belly-up in the road. 

I watched as the woman at the front of the line made a last minute swerve into the left turn lane, I assumed she was going to go into the gas station and save the baby duck. I got into the left turn lane too, ready to help her. But she did not go to the gas station, just went on her way. I pulled into a parking spot and barely had the car in park when I hopped out and started running after the baby duck. A hundred thoughts were racing through my head all at once. “is it dangerous for me to touch a wild bird?” “is it dangerous to the duck for me to touch it?” “what will I do with it if I catch it?” “am I crazy to chase a duckling around a busy gas station parking lot?” “can I keep it?” So I grabbed my phone and called my office. I was so relieved when it was my fellow animal-lover co-worker who answered the phone! I asked her what to do and she said, “YES, get that baby duck!”. 
I proceeded to run around the gas station parking lot, with my phone held between my ear and my shoulder, hunched over trying to grab this baby duck. He was so scared, running with his little wings splayed out to his sides. He ran back toward the road and I swerved wide around him to force him back toward the relative safety of the parking lot. Finally, as I dropped my phone, I grabbed the duck and went back to my car. I sat there for a minute, shaking, patting the duckling’s little head and telling him it would be ok. I started the car and drove for less than a mile and started crying. I found the nearest parking lot, pulled into a parking spot and totally lost it. I cried so hard. All of a sudden I realized that this little baby was an orphan. His mommy was gone and now separated from his siblings. I started to think about my own situation with my mommy gone and my sister and girlfriends who live far away and the parallel was overwhelming. 
I had this crazy feeling that I found and rescued this baby duck for a reason. That we both now have no mom and must stick together and now I have to step in and raise this wild animal.  I took a deep breath and called my sister. No answer. I knew she was at work and normally can’t answer her phone. So I texted her and asked her to call me. She couldn’t, so I just briefly told her what happened by text, but obviously couldn’t convey that I was loosing my shit over it. I asked her if I could keep it, and she, being the cute-and-fuzzy-lover she is replied YES.

I pulled myself together, now only sniffling a little bit, and drove back to work with the duckling still in my lap. After another deep breath I went inside and showed my co-workers my new little friend. Not leading on that I had just fallen apart over it. I put him in an empty paper box and put him near my space heater while I googled “how to raise a duckling”, texted Shannon, called Ryan, and also tried to work (luckily it was a quiet day).
While I was daydreaming about Bella having a new best friend and the little house and pond we’d have to build in the back yard, the little guy was just hanging out in his box being cute, calm and quiet. That lasted for about an hour and a half. Then he started quacking. A lot. Then he pooped. I called a local Mallard rescue and took him there on my lunch break and didn’t look back.

They’re so cute until they poop.

This post originally appeared on Textile Stockpile on May 17th, 2010.  A year’s worth of posts were lost when I switched servers, but they’ve been found and I’m updating and reposting them here. Stay tuned for more!