We were first introduced to the book by my New England born sister in law. It tells the story of Mrs. Mallard and her dangerous journey across a 1930's era Boston with 8 ducklings in tow, from the Charles River to the Boston Public Gardens, when they can frolic around the lake being fed popcorn by the tourists in the swan boats. Along the way the entire
Boston PD turns out to block all the intersections for the Mallard family.
The book is a classic, a medal winner, with witty text and beautiful illustrations.
For years I read it to the Boy, and later his sister, nearly every night. Just as I can still recite all of Goodnight Moon without looking at the book, I also have the Mallard family's name imprinted on my brain: Jack, Kack, Lack, Mack, Nack, Ouack, Pack, and Quack.
When the Boy was small we made several trips to Boston where we rode the swan boats and he happily played on the statues of Mrs Mallard and family that still march into the Public Garden.
This time of year we often have ducks and geese choosing to nest in the city. Eventually they, like Mrs Mallard, will attempt to migrate their hatchlings to the nearest body of water. Unfortunately this often involves marching across busy streets or even major highways.
Bring on the 911 calls.
"9-1-1? You need to get someone out here on the expressway. There's a family of ducks trying to get across the road and one of these cars is going to kill them."
Politely I (or my coworkers) explain that we have no one to go fetch the ducks. The animal warden only deals with dogs and cats, the police and fire department only deals with people. Wild ducks, moreover, tend to object strongly to being picked up and moved, which could cause injury to whatever good Samaritan tried to help them along, Meanwhile it isn't feasible to close down a major highway till Spring is over.
Most people say they understand and hang up, but some people get downright hostile when we explain that we can't help the baby ducks. We get accused of wasting the taxpayers money (but can you imagine what would happen if we arrived late to a bank robbery because we were rescuing ducks?)
By the way, before you ask, there are no cat skeletons in trees either. They really will come down before they starve.
Here is what I find really sad. It becomes very clear during these calls that many people are far more distressed by animals in danger than people in danger. I loved animals very much, but their safety is not generally a higher priority than that of people. This especially includes the officers and firemen who can get injured trying to perform such rescues. And especially not animals that are dumb enough to camp out on the interstate.
We're not making way for ducklings.....
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