Ahhhh yes, this is a picture of our sweet guest whom we met Sunday morning after arriving home from visiting with friends in Port Clinton for the weekend. I have a nickname on my street. I put out bird seed and corn, and as a result, squirrels, rabbits and ducks tend to come to the tree in the front of our home. I’m known as “Snow White” and I love it. I’m not sure all of my neighbors are fond of my furry and feathered friends, but I listened. I don’t want to be an annoyance to others with gardens, so I tailored back a bit when there were deer starting to come (how I miss them, but I do live in the city…).
So, Kevin and I arrived home on Sunday morning, and before he went to pull into the garage, I went to hop out of the car in the driveway. I saw a small duck by the front tree. Nothing unusual – there are usually way more than ONE duck, but I figured she beat the crowd of 25-40 we get from time to time. When I got out and closed the door, she didn’t really seem to move. Hmmmm. I knew since we had been gone, there wasn’t a lot of feed down, so I went to the garage and got the bag of crushed corn to spread out. I figured I wouldn’t be able to get too close, but I’d spread it nearby for her.
As I neared the base of the tree, the little duck got up a bit and then stumbled. She clanged. Yes, clanged as something metal hit her foot. I started to sense something was wrong, so I looked at her right webbed foot and it had a fishing lure with a metal flap sticking out of it. I paled, and looked over to my hubs in the garage who was beginning to unpack the car.
“Babe!!” I screamed. He was surprised, and stuck his head out, “What??”
“Something is wrong with her. Can you come here? Can you help?!?”
I didn’t even know what was going on, or if we could help, or how…all that mattered was getting that thing out of her! I began to pray.
Lord, you see her. What happened? This looks really bad.
It had rained for two days straight. The front lawn was saturated. Even the small bit of leftover corn that was on the ground in front of the tree was sitting in a pond made by the overflow of water. The little duck tried to get away from me by this point. I had knelt down in my jeans a few feet from her, and tried not to panic. It was raining and I wanted to cry. I can’t stand seeing anyone or anything in pain. You cry, I cry.
Kevin assessed the situation and then lovingly said, “Grab the fishing line, and hold it gently. Don’t let her get away.” So I grabbed the line that was trailing behind her, about eight feet, and held on. I couldn’t stop repeating, “It’s okay, baby, it’s okay…it’s okay, it’s going to be okay.” I had no reassurance but I wanted to calm her. She tried to take off of the ground once, but I held fast to the line. I was so worried I was hurting her worse!
She landed again, and realized she wasn’t going to get away. Kevin walked slowly to me, and knelt down as well. He placed his hands on her back and sides and held her tightly. He slowly rolled her a little bit to the side and that’s when we saw the three-pronged fishing barb in her underbelly. My stomach sunk! Tears began to pour and I had to take a deep breath.
Then Kevin looked at me and said, “Hun, I need you to hold her exactly as I’m doing while I go get some pliers.”
“I’m sorry, what?!?…Okay…I’ll try…”
More tears, more prayers.
Kevin lifted his fingers from the duck, and as he did, my hands replaced his. I felt the beating of her heart, blood rushing through her little body so fast. I’m sure mine was matching hers.
Oh my goodness, I don’t think I can do this…
Her little duck face was pressing into the grass a bit, as we had her on her stomach. I slowly re-positioned her so she could relax a bit. My hands literally encompassed the entire width of her little body. I kept taking my thumbs and softly rubbed her back while whispering that it would be okay. “It’ll be okay, sweetheart, it’ll be okay.”
How is it that we can comfort others when every fear known to man is flooding our own minds? Love seems to take over.
My legs, of course, started to burn as I was sitting in an awkward position- concentrated on holding the duck. Not too tight, but not too light to where she would take off and I’d have to grab the string again. I shifted. Ugh, it was freaking me out!
Kevin quickly returned, and was so calm, told me how to hold her while he worked. He was able to remove the entire hook from her foot. I couldn’t even fathom how she got snagged like that!
Then my thoughts went to a fisherman who had to have known that there was something attached to the end of his line…anger began to burn in my heart. How could they leave her like that!?! And then I had to pray it away and accept that I didn’t know how it happened. Maybe there was no one to blame, or maybe there was, but it’s not my place. God knew, and the good news was that she came to our yard and was getting help. I let out a sigh of relief, but had to pray away that she might begin to bleed or try to bite us, or fly away…there were a number of possibilities that could happen, but panicking never seems to solve anything.
“Babe, I need you to make sure you don’t let her go. I have to do the stomach now.” I looked into his eyes, and saw tenderness. More tears. More prayers. “Wait, let me shift.” And I adjusted my footing in the wet grass, my knees burning in pain, but I imagined nothing like what this sweet girl was experiencing. Her heartbeat was still a million miles a minute. I rubbed her back some more, and then rotated her a little. Lord, hold us.
“Hold her still here…” he pointed. And I did. My mind was asking the Lord for the physical strength to hold her and calm her, and please heal her, and let her be okay. Kevin twisted the pliers, and little pieces broke off. He worked so tenderly, and our little duck never made a noise or tried to get away. She just laid there. He worked some more, and some more little pieces removed from her underside. And finally, he took a break, wiped his face (rain was dripping from the tree above us onto our faces the entire time), and looked at me.
“She may get a little agitated. This last one might hurt.” I held her a little tighter, and he tried again to get the last piece that was twisted into her feathers on her stomach. I couldn’t even look. I was so afraid to see her wound. It was hard enough to know she was in pain in my hands.
“That’s the best I can do. I think she’ll be okay. You can let go when you’re ready, but be careful.” His words scared me, because what if I let go too quickly? What if something happened and she yanked? I know the Lord calmed my spirit, because I was still repeating, “It’s going to be okay…it’s going to be okay, sweetheart…” Her little body was facing down, but her head was turned a little to look at us. I lifted my hands.
She didn’t move.
I began to cry again.
And then I realized she was in shock.
“Honey, maybe step back a little bit. Let her readjust. She’s probably really freaked out right now.”
Kevin reassured me. I stood up and moved to the other side of the tree. And within two minutes, she finally moved. Not quickly, but enough to get herself right side up again. I then cried tears of joy. I didn’t want to leave her side.
She’s not my pet. I have a dog that is my shadow, and my heart is so full because she’s in our home. But man, I would’ve taken that little “sweet one” into my house so fast. Bella Bean probably wouldn’t have even minded. She is so passive now. 😉
I moved into the house to help him unpack. But I wanted to see if our little girl in the front yard would make it. There was no blood. No cry. No frantic movement. We removed the fishing line, she had a wounded foot, but there was still a small piece of the lure in her stomach. There was nothing we could do anymore. I had to rest in the fact that God knows her length of life. For me, it was everything to hold an animal I have admired for years in my front yard. Because of her woundedness, she allowed us to get close and we were able to have an impact.
From inside the window, I watched her, and she leaned forward, starting to eat the seed at the base of the tree, and I cried tears of thankfulness. Within a few minutes, she then took off. Low to the ground, but she began to glide higher as she went.
Kevin met me in the living room and wrapped his arms around me. I was still crying.
“Thank you so much for helping her!!” I sobbed into his neck and he hugged me so tightly.
“Babe, I know your heart. I did what I thought would work.”
Then a few minutes later in the kitchen, he said, “I wonder if she’s one of your regulars, and she knew it’d be okay to come here.” An interesting thought. What if she had been here the whole time we were gone? How long HAD she been here?
And from the living room couch a few minutes later, Kevin said, “How wild for her to be here when we got home.” Yep, I thought. I’m so glad we were able to be here for her.
She arrived on Monday evening for dinner, but got chased out by other ducks, and I saw her fly over to a neighbor’s driveway waiting. She was limping, so I knew it was her. When a kid on a bicycle went by, she took off, low to the ground. Darn it!! I thought.
And so now, it’s four days later. A squadron of mallards came for dinner at 7pm tonight and of course, my nose was pressed to the window. I didn’t see her.
“Lord, will you send her here for dinner, just so we can know she’s okay?”
The group of mallards took off, and then within minutes, she showed up. She laid down by the food and began to eat. A louder duck landed nearby and walked up on her, but they ate together in peace. She stood up once to move, and because of the hobble, I knew it was her.
“You heard me, Lord…thank You!”
I know it’s not the best picture, but she’s in the front. I sat on the porch until it got dark to make sure she was able to eat. She did, and then she took off again with her friend.
I love these little sweet animals. I love interacting with God’s creation. I don’t engage those whom I know will hurt me. I keep my distance. But I absolutely am intrigued by behaviors, markings, patterns, etc. Animals are incredible creatures with instinct and protective behavior, but they are still here on Earth for a reason. Sure, someone could take my ducks and have dinner tomorrow. I get it. But I love to admire them. I think they’re beautiful and I love interacting with them.
A few weeks ago, I built trust with a squirrel who comes once a week to my feeder from across the street. She and I are able to sit a few feet apart from each other on the front lawn. She will take unsalted peanuts from my hand and plant them in my grass. Will she find them all again? Probably not. But she is doing what comes to her naturally. I find it fascinating. Our Lord is so creative and I love to see Him glorified by them.
I share all of this to share about being known. My husband doesn’t think I’m crazy for feeding animals. He knows my love, appreciation and fascination for them. He’s crazy about me, so he stepped into my panic and helped the duck. It was a moment in time where we both worked toward the same outcome, trusted each other, and were both relieved when it was over.
This weekend, we celebrate seven years being married. He truly is my best friend. He deals with my quirks, my need to verbally process my emotions, my love for seeing success in forgiveness moments. He understands my ache when I am rejected, and lovingly encourages me to stay who I am, that those who reject me are missing out on something special. He and I had a hard year. We learned more about each other this year than the other six combined. But we grew, we endured, we recommitted.
Loving someone else is risk. It involves taking them at their best and their worst. And forgiving constantly without remembering. Because peace should reign in the walls you call home. And we have something we’ve both prayed for, for years. It takes work, but it’s so easy at the same time.
I’m so incredibly grateful for the moment on Sunday that the Lord allowed us to have with “Sweet One” the duck. It reassured me that my Lord sees me, and knows my heart, but so does the man He’s entrusted with it. And I’m grateful for their love.
I love you with all of my kidney, Kevin. ❤