Davies is a little mallard duckling I found frantically running around in our driveway yesterday on my way to work. I have no idea where he came from, but there he was – in the middle of the day, almost in the middle of downtown, all by his lonesome.
With the help of Lady Shopkeeper from downstairs, I captured him and put him in a box with a tiny bowl of water and carried him to work where he sat in his bowl of water and glared at me – the entire time.
I’ve raised ducklings before on our little Ohio farm, and they are usually sweet, docile sort of creatures, but I’ve never dealt with a wild baby duck – he was pretty fierce for being tiny enough to not quite fill a teacup. Anytime I came near his box to check on him he would charge right out into the open and stand there, demanding to be let loose. I’ve never had something so small and fragile be so bold. I swear he was looking me right in the eye… Then he would rear up and spread his unfeathered wings and open his mouth in a silent hiss, defying me to make darling baby noises.
He was ticked off.
If he weren’t so stinking cute, I probably would have been quite terrified.
I called Alex, who was on duty, so that he could come and see our new charge. The little guy was too small to let go of, so I thought we could just raise him for a couple of weeks and then send him to go live on our friend’s farm. Until then, he could just live in the bathtub, right?
“Where is it?” My husband asked, and I led him to the back room where Davies was passionately plotting his escape. Alex immediately started making darling baby noises, and duckling made threatening, “I’ll kill you if you touch me…” faces and I just sat there and melted.
“Why is he doing that?” Alex asked.
“I’m not sure, he either hates our guts… or thinks we’re his parents and wants us to feed him… he must be a teenager.” We chuckled, and I melted some more. Thinking about having a baby *thing* in our tub was quite delightful, I was busily planning how to take him on vacation with us next week.
How would he be in the car? Would he ever get used to us? Would it ruin him to raise him for even a few weeks? Would he be able to make it on his own out in the world when he was older?
I so badly wanted him to feel safer than I knew he was feeling, but you can’t explain such things to duckling…
“Ok, I gotta go… what’s its name?”
“I don’t know yet- we can keep him?! I can get duckling food at the feed store, and he needs duck vitamins, too!” Alex laughed and said he loved me and then left.
The day wore on and Davies emptied his little bowl of water in protest and stared me down until he literally fell over in exhaustion. The more I thought about it, the more I realized how unhappy he was going to be in a little city apartment, even with all the love and duck vitamins he was going to be showered with. So I, very reluctantly, called up a friend who has a farm and asked them if they were better equipped to deal with a wild, spirited little duckling.
They were. They had a little home and duck food and vitamins and a wildlife vet and a pond all ready. Beats a cardboard box and cornmeal any old day! I felt so inadequate.
After work, I bundled Davies up in his box and drove out the friend’s farm and let them have him.
Then I went home and cried like a silly girl over that silly duckling.
Sometimes it’s hard to wait for what you want so badly.
Alex and I have all these grand ‘someday’ plans about a home of our own, and a farm and babies… sometimes we get a little teaser like this and it’s hard to let it go and remember we’re still in waiting mode.
Someday I would like to have a place where all the lost little ducklings we encounter can come and be safe and find a home. A place that’s sprawling and nurturing and full of life and places to hide away when you’re feeling wild and fierce, places to explore when you’re feeling bold and places to be comforted if you need a mother.
I’d like to be the mother of such a place, someday.