On Wednesday I was walking the dogs along the canal and noticed a duckling swimming north up the canal. I didn't see any other ducks around and thought that was odd, but what're ya gonna do? About another mile up the canal, I see a group of ducks, including a female duck with six ducklings swimming behind her. I decided I was about done with my walk and walked south back, wondering if the lone duckling was closer now. He wasn't. He was in the same place he was before. I figured that I'd watch him awhile and see what he did. He kept going the direction of his mom and then turn around and go the other way. I determined to get the duck back to his mom, so I tied the dogs to a fence, took off my shirt, and tried to get close to the water. It took me 15 minutes to notice that this was going to be impossible, given the deep sides of the canal and the fact that I have terrible balance.
So I took the dogs back and grabbed, what else, a broom.
I drove back towards the canal and ran back to the spot I left the duckling. He was still there, and after some coaxing, I worked it towards a group of steps leading to the water. I scooped him up and grabbed him. Then I walked/jogged/looked ridiculous as I carried him the mile to where I had left his mother. Although now she was across the canal and I had no where to cross. Sigh. So I walked slowly, working her (and the six ducklings behind her) towards another one of those step thingies. Eventually, I got her there, placed her wayward duckling on the end of the broom, and flung the duckling toward her. One life saved.
Then I went for a walk on Saturday and saw the female duck with only two ducklings behind her. "Well," I reasoned, "it could have been just one."
Sunday I went for another walk and saw the female duck with just one duckling around her. "Well," I tried again, "it could have been zero."
Here's my point: I know that natural selection weeds out the weak (like the ones who get lost swimming ONE DIRECTION ON A 12 FOOT WIDE CANAL), but it still makes me feel sad. I want to use another word, but sad is all that works. And I also feel like I should have learned this lesson either a) when I was younger or b) when I watched the Andy Griffith episode where Opie kills a bird. But I didn't. And natural processes don't care that a) the ducklings died or b) that I have any feelings at all.
So I'll soldier on, but I have decided that I just shouldn't give a duck.