Friday, April 22, 2011
I opened the LA Times this morning to see a picture, something like the one above, of a mother duck and 12 ducklings trying to cross Atlantic Boulevard in the busy industrial suburb of Vernon. "CHEEZ......." I exhaled, as my eyes lit on those tiny little guys. In the Times photo, tail lights of cars that had already passed were on the left side of the picture and I knew that on the right hand side were yet-unseen front tires of oncoming vehicles.
There is nothing like a tiny critter in trouble that gets my heart pumping. Yes, I knew that the photographer was not going to let those cars run over the ducklings. But still, just the thought of the many mother ducks who don't manage to pick a time when no photographers are handy -- well, I try my best not to allow my brain to even think about that. There are such dorks on the road who don't give a damn!
When we first retired we moved to a lovely senior apartment complex in Loma Linda that always had interesting little critters doing things around it. We had a resident road-runner who was a real crack-up to watch. We had a heron who stood over the koi pond, periodically shooed away by women residents flapping their crepey arms at him. We had a racoon family who nightly took their little brood for a walk past my bedroom window. And we had the occasional migrating duck who found the swimming pool a nice place to rest for a while.
But what wasn't nice was the mother duck who every year managed to walk babies so close to one particular storm drain in the front parking lot that at least one duckling fell into it. The mother duck wasn't about to go off and leave that baby, so she would run back and forth in front of the drain and squawk her head off until some of the maintenance people came with a pool scoop and rescued the baby. The first time I saw that happen I told Jerry we either would have to move or I would have to stay inside the apartment until the ducks were grown and able to fly off the premises. I just couldn't bear the tension of that drama!
Of course we did neither, but I could count on having to endure such a rescue every spring. The mother duck, smart as she was, just didn't get it that she needed to choose a different route. Same mother, same drama, for the five years we were there.
For some reason the LA Times didn't post their dramatic picture on the online newspaper, so I had to go looking for a similar one. And in looking I found the picture below that shows another form of rescue - and that reminds me of another short story.
My daughter's family in Los Angeles was presented with a tiny kitty that a gardener had found all alone in a flower bed. They brought the kitty inside, cleaned it up, named it "Lucky" and made a warm bed for it. Within a couple of days the baby cat had walked on a grate covering the vent for the heater/AC, which was in the basement of their house, and somehow managed to slip through the vent cover. It then went plunging down into the basement. From the basement the family could hear the cat mew but they hadn't a clue as to how to find it among all those many conduits.
My little granddaughters, 7 and 9, were hysterical. Their dad put them into the car, drove to the fire station a few blocks from their house, and sent the girls to ask the firemen if they could come help rescue the cat.
Everyone knows that firemen are busy men, but when called on by two sobbing little girls to rescue a kitty, what could they do? It took a couple of hours of work to retrieve the cat but their hard work paid off. Lucky arrived back upstairs safe and sound by LA's finest! My kids wired up the vents so NOTHING smaller than a gnat would ever fall down them again.
I once bribed a hungry cat down from a tree by putting a cube of butter on the tines of a rake, sticking the rake/butter within licking distance of the cat, and then slowly withdrawing it until my boss, a Salvation Army Officer who was lurking behind the tree trunk with gloves on, could snatch the cat as it got within striking range. No one came to take our picture, although I think they should have. It would have made a nice feature article for the local newspaper and some nice publicity for The Salvation Army, don't you think?