I had a day off today. So did my good lady. That doesn’t happen often on a weekday these days so we decided to take advantage of the situation and take my daughter and grandson out to lunch. This involves a long drive to get to her place and a long walk with the pram to get to the town centre. The walk was pleasant enough as we took the scenic route through the woods close to the town.
On reaching the town centre, we were amused to see a duck with five ducklings surrounded by a hoard of people. A canal runs parallel to the main street and the duck had obviously lost her way and seemed to have some difficulty in finding her way back to the canal through the adjoining sidestreets. I suggested I could take my jacket off and capture the duck, we could then round up the ducklings and transport the whole family back to the waters edge. Then I learned that that wouldn’t be a good idea as five other ducklings were caught in a drain nearby. A drainpipe, designed to remove the water from rooftops was actually missing and the five ducklings had gone down the remaining hole in the street leading to the main drain below. The cover to this drain was adjacent to the hole and we could hear the poor things splashing about in the drain below. Someone said that the rescue team had been called but this is not a priority mission for them, so I decided immediate action was necessary. I attacked the drain cover with my car key attempting to clear the lifting hole of sand and crud but soon realised this wasn’t going to do the job. The drain was surrounded with cobbles, so I attacked them instead, my intention being to rip the top plate and cover away and gain access to the drain.
A young man appeared, armed with a screwdriver and a hammer. He was as determined as I and together we soon had the cobbles up, tore the top off the drain and peered into the hole. Five ducklings, just over arms length away, were happily bobbing about on the top of the dirty rainwater trapped in the drain. He couldn’t quite reach them. I laid down on the pavement, shoved my arm down the hole and just managed to grab the feathers on a ducklings neck. I heaved it triumphantly up from the darkness and people cheered. One down, four to go. I managed to heave another three up without too much difficulty but the last one had learned well from its mother. Being afraid of me, it continued to dive under the water at every grab I made for it. I couldn’t reach it.
Finally, a local tradesman came with a dustpan on a handle and suggested we use that to fish the last one up. After four or five attempts the little duckling finally clambered into the pan and we hauled it up to the surface, me holding the dustpan and my young friend and fellow rescuer holding the duckling.
By now, others had collected all the ducklings into a cardboard box and had caught the mother duck. They were all duly transported back to the canal and released into the more duck-friendly environment. The youngster and I repaired the damage we had done as best we could, replaced the drain cover and blocked the downpipe hole with stones to prevent a repeat occurrence and replaced the cobbles. Happy with our handiwork we shook hands, told each other well done and went on our way.
I looked a mess as I walked into the restaurant where we were to have lunch. Hands dirty, my once white shirt front filthy from laying on the street and my jacket covered in dust. Luckily I know the restaurant owner, explained how I arrived in the condition that I was in and excused myself to the washroom to get cleaned up. And then we had lunch. Which was, by the way, absolutely delicious. My thanks to Charlie, our charming and understanding host.
I am sure now, that ducks in the future, sitting round their duck camp fire in the evenings, will recount this tale to their children. I shall forever be a hero amongst ducks everywhere.
Or maybe not.
I really don’t care. The thing is, five ducklings are alive and well with their mother this evening because two people couldn’t just stand by, waiting, and do nothing.
Which makes me wonder what the world could be like if everyone else couldn’t just stand by, waiting for others to come and sort the situation out and doing nothing, while everything else, other than ducklings, is going down the drain…?