Thursday, March 24, 2005

Fowl Play

Jamie and I went out to lunch together today.

You'd know Jamie if you ever saw her -- she's just a shade over 6 feet tall, weighs 120 lbs and has wildly curling, bright red hair, freckles, and Paul Newman blue eyes. She and I used to work together in psychiatry research -- she's still there, and we try to get together once a week or so (she likes to vent about the job -- she's got the temper to match the hair).

So we're sitting in the cafeteria, and she said, "Do you remember the ducks?"

It was a spring day that day. I'd gotten to work late (as usual -- I operate on Jodie time so it's a good thing I've got a degree). There was a white duck in the parking lot, and it LOOKED frazzled -- feathers were standing up on the top of its head and it was quacking wildly and running in circles. If I hadn't known that only mammals get rabies, I'd have been suspicious about this duck.

So, being the curious person I am (my mom used to tell me that curiosity wouldn't kill me, but I'm not so sure), I had to check this out, and soon heard a very soft peep peep peep sound...which instantly made me bond with this mother duck whose ducklings were missing or trapped or SOMETHING.

After a bit of looking, I discovered they'd apparently fallen into a grate -- and I could see them, 5 feet below street level, looking up and wanting their mom.

So, since I was late already, I went into work and made a number of calls -- to the city, to University maintenance, to the police -- and NO ONE would come help these ducks out of the sewer. Jamie had been watching me do this all morning and finally said, "I bet we can figure out a way." So off we went.

I had no idea that two people could pull up a huge metal sewer grate cover, but we managed it, barely, and didn't even drop it on our toes.

Since Jamie's clothes were nicer than mine that day, I was the one elected to climb into the sewer and fetch the ducklings. And it was cobwebby, with scungy (an esoteric scientific term) stuff on the bottom, with huge ugly bugs. But heck, we couldn't leave them there...

There was just enough space to crouch down, but as I reached for a duckling, the whole crew got spooked and ran down the pipe, peep peep peep-ing frantically all the way.

So I climbed back out and the ducklings came back. Mom was getting crazier, making little darts at our legs as though she was working herself up to attack these monsters who obviously had nefarious designs on her babies.

I walked over to my car and opened the trunk, looking for inspiration -- and pulled out the spare tire cover, a nice sized piece of plywood. That fit over one sewer pipe hole. For the other one, the best I could do was a blanket that Jamie held so that it just covered the hole.

Back in I went, and by this time Mom had her courage up, so as Jamie held the blanket and I scooped fuzzy little yellow ducks, Mom pecked both of us unmercifully...until all 12 of the little darlings were safe. Then they all waddled off, Mom quacking as though she'd saved them herself (and maybe she thought she had). You'd have thought those little ducks were glued to her, the way they crowded up so closely.

Jamie and I didn't get anything else done that day. But you know, it was worth it.


Gone Away said...

There is a story that circulates through the duck world about two superheroes who once saved an entire duck family. In this tale we learn of the amazing efforts of Supernurse and her sidekick, the Mighty Lofty One, and how they descended to the Underworld on a mission of mercy to all Duckdom. It is said, too, that their efforts would have come to nought had it not been for the constant encouragement of Duckmom, who stood bravely by them throughout their ordeal...

Jodie said...

Oh Gone, you are too funny. :D

Ellie Finlay said...

Wow. This is great. I'm so impressed with what you did. I'm an animal lover myself and have rescued lots over the years but this took some extra special cleverness. Well done!

Osbasso said...

I'm out running around Blogger World, away from the comfort of my circle of bloggerfriends, and came across yours. Great story! I might even have to venture out in the future to read more!

Osbasso said...

Have to admit, too, that Gone's comments are pretty good!

girl_in_greenwood said...

That is a great story! It reminds me very much of the time my mom stopped traffic on a six-lane road in Madison, Wisconsin so a family of ducks could cross on their way to the lake... You're obviously just my kind of nuts. :)


Came to you from A Little Bit Rusty just for kicks and read this story that made me so happy!
See, there are wonderful people in the world like you.

Harry said...

(That Gone guy has way too much imagination, and could be a writer if he wanted, I betcha)

While driving a grain truck during wheat harvest (and this happened somewhere around the borders of Oklahoma and Texas, just north of Dallas. For those of you unfamiliar, rivers in that part of the world have the longest bridges over the driest stream beds), I encountered, of all things, a lone soft-shelled turtle taking up residence at the half-way spot on a two-lane span. Surprised, since thinking these creatures only lived in south Georgia, I stopped and walked back to "do my part". The cussed thing saw me coming, reared up on his four legs, hissed like a mad cat, and he charged. Of course, I thought of a new plan, and I turned tail and ran away.

Happy to report for all the turtle-lovers out there who might be rooting more for him than me now: as I next climbed back up into my safe truck cab, I caught sight of the little ungrateful, loud and leathery monster as he shot for the edge and vanished over the side of the bridge.

Flying turtles seemed like a better idea than flat sail-turtles, so I continued on my way satisfied.