I had a very "Make Way for Ducklings" moment today.
I was walking back to my office from the rec center on campus when I noticed a woman watching a duck. "That's odd," I thought..."Why would a duck be in the middle of campus? There's no standing water here." Then I noticed her five fuzzy little (and I mean tiny) ducklings peeping and trailing close behind her tail at every step.
The woman, a librarian, had been watching the ducks for almost an hour, trying to figure out what to do about them. Campus groundkeeping was gone for the weekend and, if left there, the ducklings would likely perish due to lack of water. So, we decided that we would try to usher / herd the ducks across campus and across a busy 6-lane road to the adjacent park. It has a small lake and would be ideal for wild ducks.
So, we herded and we ushed, looking bizarre to any casual onlookers, I'm sure. Momma duck was pretty upset at us a few times, and she refused to budge from under a big fir tree at one point. We gave her a couple of minutes to regroup and then moved them along with kind words and waving arms.
Ducks aren't too bright, it seems. Momma duck kept hopping up curbs and ledges only to turn around and realize that her wee ones couldn't make it up. After the 6th or 7th time, you'd think she'd learn. But apparently not.
The most dramatic moment (for me, at least) was when I had to step out into 45 mph traffic and stop 6 lanes of oncoming cars in order to make a path for the ducks to get across MLK (a major road next to campus). An uptight lady in a minivan was waving her arms the whole time as if to say, "Why are you making me stop?" DUCKLINGS! madam...ducklings.
Momma duck made a beeline for the park across the street once the cars stopped and, after we lifted her babies up over the 8" curb, they all waddled down the grass in the direction of the lake. It was a rather triumphant feeling seeing them back in a friendly habitat. The librarian and I shook hands, shared a moment of self-congratulation, and departed.
If you've never read Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey, it's certainly worth doing so. Having a small child beside you when you do is nice, but not necessary...you'll enjoy it all the same.