Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Duck Duck Duck

I'm worried about a very ugly duck. It's a Muscovy duck, one of three that live on the grounds of my Miami apartment building. In addition to being ugly, Muscovy ducks aren't too bright, and this duck is no exception. To make matters worse, the poor dumb duck has a peculiar handicap, a tangle of dirty streamers that somehow got caught in his feathers and has affected his ability to fly.

The ducks have a great setup here. A water fountain has been fitted with a plastic pipe that dispenses water at ground level, so they always have a supply of fresh drinking water. They live amidst grass, flowers, palm trees, even a tiny beach, all amounting to nothing short of duck paradise. But instead of lolling on the grass under the shade of a palm, my foolish duck and his equally foolish buddies choose to spend an inordinate amount of time in the building's parking lot. It's a busy area, with cars frequently coming and going. If a car gets too close, I've seen the two able-bodied ducks fly to safer ground. But their crippled brother can no longer fly, so I fear it's only a matter of time before he becomes pressed duck under the wheels of some hapless sedan.

Still, things could be worse. I used to worry that the disabled duck would be abandoned by his companions and that he'd slowly die of starvation or even loneliness. But I needn't have feared. The ducks have shown a remarkable loyalty to one another. They stay together. They rest together in the shade under the cars. I've grown to love the ducks, all three of them. And of course I worry every time a car turns into the parking lot.

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