Wednesday, April 22, 2009


And this morning I ran over some baby ducks.

Yes, it was a accident. And yes, I'm completely broken up about it.

I think I've mentioned how my office is in a bottomland crisscrossed by channels and shallow bodies of water. And with spring we have an abundance of ducks, geese, and other waterfowl raising their young. We have signs up and everyone is very careful about driving around.

And then I ran over the baby ducks. Now I'm a monster.

I came around a curve into our parking lot. I never saw the ducklings, and saw the mother duck only when I was right on top of them. Looking in the rearview I saw one of their little bodies flapping around on the asphalt and realized what I had done. I parked and went back but by that time it was too late.

There were two of them. The one I saw flapping was dead by the time I got back, and I found the body of another one, crushed, nearby. I moved them off the parking lot into the low marsh nearby, to where the mother was squawking loudly at me with her surviving brood. I apologized to the mother and offered a quiet prayer. But I had blood on my hands.

There had been another driver, right behind me coming in, but it doesn't feel right to share the blame. Or to blame the ducks for picking that particular moment to cross a heavily-traveled lot. Or to remember all the times I stopped, or even got out of the car to shoo ducklings to relative safety. Or to seek comfort in the fact that there are survivors, and part of the entire idea of raising a lot of duckling is that some will not survive, taken down by predators or illness or accidents.

But in this case the accident was me. And I feel like the clumsy giant, the uncaring ogre, the bad neighbor, the savage fool. Killing without purpose, an engine of destruction.

The guilt will remain with me for a while, as it should. I still feel the karmic debt for running over a chipmunk in Lake Geneva almost 20 years back.

I'm going to be carrying those ducklings for a while.

More later,