JOE GREENWOOD: 20,000 Leagues Into The Sky — Unheralded Duck

This morning while driving to work, I came across a mother duck and her brood of at least two dozen baby ducklings bravely attempting to cross Columbia Road toward the University of North Dakota School of Medicine. I turned my car around a long block to come upon them again in hopes of snapping a picture. Perhaps I’d stop my car with flashers in the middle of the busy road and frame an iconic still of their precipitous attempts through one of the city’s busiest roadways.

By the time I got back around, they were nearly across the street, several cars slowing to let the small ones finish their journey, the mother turning back to help the last of them up off the street and up over the curb. How proud I was of them for jumping onto that curb!

I ditched my car and ran across the road with my camera as the mother eyed me and guided her young ones beneath a row of parked cars.

“I don’t mean to harm you! Please, begging just a photo!” I expressed with my face, but neither the mother nor the young ones were having anything of it and wanted nothing to do with me. I felt remorse for how I must have frightened those young ducklings but was very much impressed with their ability to scuttle along stealthily and conceal themselves. I wondered about their vision and imagined how they might be mentally processing my presence.

I walked a bit away and tried to find them beneath the vehicles, but they remained very well-hidden. I left them alone, carelessly crossing back through traffic to my car and reviewed the poor distant photos I had captured. Nothing iconic in the hasty lot, but at least you could see them, the ducklings, however grainily, as a reminder of the darling creatures and their thrilling plight.

Unheralded Duck
Baby ducklings climb the curb along north Columbia Road on Friday morning in Grand Forks.

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