Friday, February 20, 2009

Here Come The Ducks!

Some weeks ago, I was driving down Spokane Falls Boulevard, which is the street that runs next to Riverfront Park and the Spokane River. I was coming to a crosswalk when I saw a number of ducks gathering at the crosswalk, tails awaggin', feet adancin'....

So yes, I stopped. They looked determined to cross. Which they did, after I stopped. I actually stopped (as the photo shows) way ahead of the crosswalk. You can't always trust a duck to stay within the white lines... Other cars stopped even further behind me. We all knew who had the right of way.

I remember one year, back when I lived near Manito Park (on the duck pond side), I was looking out my window and saw a mama duck and her ducklings waddling their way in a sweet line, one after the other, down the middle of the street towards the pond, and then saw the cars - and one bicyclist - lined up behind them, moving at snail's pace so as not to disrupt nature's course.

The image above reminds me of the story of Ping - a children's story of a Chinese duck who gets separated from his boat and his family just because he doesn't want to be the last one at the end of the day to get on the boat (and get spanked). All turns out well in the end, but I remember as a child being scared for sweet Ping as he can't find his family....

The image also reminds me of a story from last year, when Joel Armstrong, a local banker - there are some good ones out there! - saved the lives of brand new baby ducks who were born in a nest made precariously on the cement awning next to his office window and who one day started taking nose-dives down the side of the building to their mama quacking at them below. Joel rushed out of the building after the first kamikaze jump and ended up catching the remaining babies with his bare hands, one by one, until all of them were standing next to their mom, who seemed to appreciate his help. He and other office folks then helped get the babies to water by transporting them by box the couple of blocks it was to the Spokane River. confirmed the story as true (and posts great photos as well). Those of us in Spokane already knew it had really happened. Joel became known as the Duck Hero - all around the world, actually. He and his family were even the Honorary Duck Masters at the Peabody Hotel in Orlando, Florida (which has a duck march twice a day, with great fanfare). And while Joel definitely went the extra mile, we Spokanians do know who has priority in this town when it comes to getting from here to there.

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