June 2, 2005

Ducks in the Road

Picture, if you will, a four lane highway. Route One, Richmond Highway as it is called while passing through the part of Virginia I am in. It is rush hour on a warmish June evening. Heavy traffic, bumper to bumper, fills both southbound lanes. The northbound volume is less dense yet still proceeds along the highway in numbers not to be ignored.

Myself, well, I’m on a side street in my car patiently waiting at one of the world’s longest stoplights. Soon, hopefully very soon, I will be given the opportunity to turn left onto the northbound lanes and proceed homeward.

Movement on the highway median catches my eye. I see a family. A family of ducks! Mommy and six little babies. “Oh! Baby ducks! How cute!” are my first thoughts. Then I think, “Holy shit what are those ducks doing in the middle of the road during rush hour?” I cringe. My mind races through possible outcomes. None of them are good.

An ancient red pickup truck traveling north stops in the middle of the intersection. An older man, let’s say he’s fifty, dressed in denim overalls and a ball cap, hops out of the truck. He boldly steps into the other northbound lane and holds up his hand in the classic sign “stop!” Surprisingly, the approaching vehicles do indeed come to a stop.

Overall Man is in charge. He approaches the Duck Family and begins to herd them across the northbound lanes. The Duck Family is surprisingly compliant and moves in a seemingly organized pack quickly across two lanes toward the curb.

Mama Duck hops up into the grass. But the Baby Ducklings are unable to climb the concrete curb! I see one jump and tumble back into the gutter, then another and another.

Overall Man to the rescue again! He squats down and gently helps each duckling up the curb into the grass. Except for those two ducklings who evidently are alarmed by Overall Man. They waddle rapidly away down the street. He breaks into a trot after them. His legs being considerably longer than theirs, he catches up with them quickly and scoops them up to join the family. The ducks all disappear into the tall weeds.

From afar in my car, I cheer.


This is a picture I took on my trip with my mom. I call it “Dunking Ducks” because these silly ducks kept putting their heads under the water. My mother thinks they were eating. I think they were taking baths. Anyone know why ducks dunk their heads?



Katie (WannaBeMom) said...

I love overall man. Goodness in the world.

That Girl said...

Im terrified of birds. I can only imagine grim reasons why they ever do what they do.

Mel said...

Three cheers for Overall Man!

Pisces75 said...

Three cheers for overall man!

The babies were probably practicing...but they dunk their heads to eat, drink, and bathe. If they go bottoms up for a long time it is usually eating. If it is a quick under and up then it is bathing.

Irishcoda said...

Awwww...good for Overall Man. It's good these were ducks and not geese with a protective gander hanging around! We have ducks & geese & their young here by the lake and there's also a family of guinea hens. I don't think they know or care what cars are, LOL

Dara said...

What an adorable story - the embodiment of "Practice Random Kindness and Senseless Acts of Beauty." Remember that picture book by Robert McClosky, "Make Way For Ducklings"?

KOB said...

Great story and a very nice read. Thanks for sharing it.

Eyes said...

What a great story!!

Serialangel said...

Aww that is such a cute story! I like Overall man, he seems like a 'swell' guy. There should be a blog about him.

Rebecca Hartong said...

This was a wonderful story. Thanks for telling it. It's enough to make a person think humankind maybe isn't so bad, after all.

Well... almost enough.

The person who answered your duck dunking question is correct. If they're under water for a bit, they're eating. Otherwise they're just bathing or otherwise screwing around. I grew up next to a big swamp in Minnesota where all the ducks go to vacation and I have first-hand duck experience.