Friday, April 22, 2011

Story-A-Day #162: Ducks


What brings them here, these waylaid ducks? It is clearly not their season, and this is clearly not their place. Ducks are meant to migrate, like their human snowbird equivalents. They enjoy this region for two-and-a-half seasons, and spend their remaining days in a more temperate climate.

So why then are they huddled on this driveway, seeking as much radiant heat from the black asphalt as they can muster? This is no lake or secluded pond, no home for a duck. In fact, aside from the slow trickle of melting snow, there is no water whatsoever for them to splash in. There is nowhere for them to seek out sustenance and shelter.

So why then are they here? Are their internal compasses broken, sending them north again, instead of further south? Were they simply confused about the date or season, expecting that they would be able to splash down into a cool body of water and resume their seasonal routine?

What could this strange phenomenon mean? Is it as simple a matter as a longer winter or an indication that spring might soon arrive, or is there a deeper scientific reasoning for this displacement.

They have clearly chosen this residential driveway as a temporary home for the heat that it gives off, and the seeds the residents of the house often spread, but perhaps the glistening snowmelt also drew them here. There is a chance that from above, that moist stretch might have looked like a short section of river.

Fortunately, the ducks seem to realize the error of their assessment as they descend, and not one of them has skidded painfully across that unyielding surface expecting a splash on impact.

Is this another sign of nature gone wrong? Is this perhaps the result of the same factors that have caused other species of bird to fall dead from the sky en masse? Is it related to the massive schools of fish that have been washing up dead around the globe? Did whatever confused these ducks attack the world honeybee population in a similar manner, and if so, is the world’s duck population experiencing a sudden and mysterious cull?

There are many possible explanations, many of them related to familiar human traits.

Ducks are sometimes early for their scheduled appointments.

Ducks have leaders and follow them blindly.

Some ducks are born stupid.

There may not even been a solid explanation. Maybe this is just what nature intended…

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