We never have overnight guests in our home since we tend to have only two or three functioning rooms, at best, due to construction. One has to be the bathroom, and a place to sleep, and I really like for one to be the kitchen. But we could surely accommodate this duckling for an overnight stay, and so we did.
Here's what happened. I'm driving down an extremely busy highway when I see a mother duck attempting to lead her ducklings out into traffic. This is just not going to happen as a steady barrage of eighteen-wheelers and Philadelphia-bound traffic keeps this road busy every minute of the day. Something makes me pull over to the side of the road, to make sure nothing goes terribly wrong. In the rear view mirror, I watch as the mother duck makes a few attempts out into traffic. What is she doing? Her ducklings stay grouped on the shoulder of the road, waiting for her direction. Finally, the frustrated mama duck takes flight, leaving her fold stranded. No doubt she'll return, but when? Then, one of the ducklings makes a bee line out into the road and is immediately swallowed under one, then two cars. The gusty breeze from a commercial truck blows the hit duckling back to the shoulder of the road. The gaggle of ducklings run over to their wounded one, and after prolonged analysis, declare the duckling dead. The whole time, I sit on the shoulder of the road, still watching. The stranded ducklings continue their journey, as a group, along the shoulder of the road. They leave their dead. But I have to know for sure.
How to reach the duckling without jeopardizing my own safety? I put the car in reverse and pull up next to the wounded duckling. My arm reached out and I scoop it up in the palm of my hand. It's alive, but it could go either way.
By the afternoon, "ducky" has made a marvelous recovery and is quacking and flexing its little winglets as he tries to escape the cushioned mail carton that is his temporary shelter.
I call the Mister. "I have a duck. It's a long story."
At home, my husband stands over the duck like a concerned father. He attempts to warm the duck with a heat lamp so intense that it terrifies me. My husband is afraid the duckling won't make it through the night. The duckling has quieted down, appears sluggish. In the morning, I put it in the warm, fuzzy pocket of my house coat, which it loves. It pees in the pocket. And then ducky comes alive again once more in the mail carton, jumping up and down as it tries to escape. And it keeps it up all the way to the wildlife rehab and refuge center, where I am told that ducky has a fine chance of survival. The rehab center actually has several other ducklings there just ducky's size, and he should blend in fine. I fill out the paperwork, make a donation, get back in the car, and cry. It was the right thing to do, but I miss ducky already. However, it is a duck, and I am not a duck mama. Nor are we set up to raise ducklings.