On Monday I started telling you about how I relate to squirrels and ended up by telling you how I got into a duck sitting situation.

I was minding my own business, skipping stones on the beautiful Georgian bay at a place we refer to as Big Bay, when a woman asked me to stop minding my own business, and asked my friend and me to mind a couple of orphaned ducklings on the water. She asked us to watch where they went, if they went anywhere, while she went to get a boat to attempt to capture them.

Her purpose was to raise them safely, since their parents were gone, and release them to the wild when they were big enough to survive.

I could do that!

I could stand around, idly watching ducklings puddle about, watch them scurry away from the shoreline every time I got close to the boat launch where they sought shelter, watch them swim tantalizingly close to that same finger dock again whenever I moved away.

I could just stand there beside an unused landing net, and wait for someone to come back with a kayak, then go on my merry way, having done nothing more and not even tried to answer this challenge, couldn’t I?

Yeah, right. No!

I picked up the net, I hefted it, swung it a couple of times, got the weight of it in my mind. I watched the ducklings and figured out their plan for staying free. They wanted to survive and had no idea that’s what we wanted also.

I started out at the base of the boat launch and watched the two orphans long enough to know where they liked to stay when undisturbed. Then I calmly walked off to the side until I was out of their sight and they were out of mine.

And then?

I did not set any land speed records, but I did break into a run, up onto the pier, across to the other side so I could get up even with where they were without them seeing me.

The pier is concrete, and piled on the sides with huge boulders to keep the water from eroding it. Once I was in line with where the ducklings were, I ran up the boulders on the side of the pier, hopping from boulder to boulder until I reached the top.

Out of sight, out of mind

I was still out of sight to the ducklings, running bent over across the fifteen foot wide pier. I had to stand up to traverse the boulders on the other side, but I managed that and still couldn’t see them. Maybe ten seconds had passed since I had started my run.

I knew when I hit the deck of the launch finger they’d know I was there, they’d hear if not see me, so I had to hope they hadn’t moved from where they were. I hit the narrow deck hard and put on the brakes. Just as I arrived they realized what was happening.

Dive, Dive!

Did you know that hairy baby ducklings can dive? I know now. But somehow I had arrived at the right place at the right time and armed with the right tool. I jammed the dip-net down into the water and scooped up the ducklings, gave the net a quick turn to close off their escape, visually checked to make sure they were okay, and set them down on the finger dock where I was standing.

Then I walked away, picked up a few more stones and skipped them across the water.

Duckling Mic Drop

My friend with me said it looked like I’d just delivered some great rant, then simply dropped the mic and walked off stage. I had figured that the ducklings would be less traumatized in my absence, but it was true that the excitement was over and I probably wasn’t interested in the scene as much now that there was no more launching myself off of boulders to be done.

And in the absence of a squirrel to distract me, I was lucky to have some stones to skip, don’t you think?