Saturday, November 03, 2007


I was driving down Leach Highway this morning on my way to get a haircut, idly thinking about nothing in particular, when I noticed a mother duck and four or five ducklings standing on the median strip.

In the period of a single second I went from “Oh for cute! A mummy duck and a whole bunch of baby ducklings!” to “This probably isn’t the best place to try to cross the road, Mrs Duck” to “GAAAAHHH!” The mother duck wanted to cross that road; the fact it was crammed with speeding cars was clearly not enough to overcome her instinct. She was disoriented and nervous, but insistent on leading her young across that road.

I swerved out of my lane to miss her, just in time, and luckily without hitting any vehicles in the next lane. The van behind managed to do the same, as did the car behind him. But the black Commodore sedan behind them, who was no doubt wandering why the traffic ahead was suddenly veering all over the road, couldn’t react in time. In my rear vision mirror I saw the mother duck vanish in a cloud of tyre smoke and feathers.

I know I put on a cool façade, and am frequently accused of being unfeeling and insensitive. But that sight just broke my heart. I tried to tell myself that they were only common wild ducks, and that it was probably for the best if individuals stupid enough to try and cross a six lane highway on a busy Saturday morning were weeded out the gene pool. But I couldn’t help but think of those terrified baby ducklings, milling about the body of their mother, lost and alone in a world suddenly full of death and danger.

I would have stopped if I could, but on that particular stretch of the highway there’s no place to do so. I just had to let the flow of cars bear me away.


Anonymous Emma A said...

That is really really sad, those poor little ducklings, I am feeling echoes of sadness and worry wondering what became of them, poor little mites.

12:38 PM  

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