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Mack Williams: ‘Why a Duck?’

While visiting with my son Jeremy the other day, he showed me a video he had made earlier that same day.

This took place in Danville, Virginia, where I live and where Jeremy works in a law office as an investigator.

Not far down the street from the law office is an area which the city of Danville is “re-imagining” as “The River District” (but the nearby Dan River needs no “imagining,” as it is as “solid” (well, liquid) as the Yadkin).

Some of the native river life intrudes into human city spaces from time to time, as I’ve carried a few river turtles back to the river after their trek to the environs of our butterfly garden at the Danville Science Center. The butterfly garden is also a place of quiet meditation, so I guess for the turtles it’s a respite from the “rat race” (fish race, amphibian race, reptile race) of the river.

The subjects of Jeremy’s video were a lawyer and a couple of ducks (no, this is not one of those lawyer jokes).

Jeremy and the lawyer for whom he works were trying to save a duck and her duckling from being run over by city traffic. I myself have worried about crossing city streets with all of those auto-faring “phone punchers” (typists) about; and my “radar blip” is much bigger than that of a duck and her duckling!

Jeremy, being the maker of the video, remains unseen, except for occasional shadow; but he was trying to help also, his comments on their efforts sometimes assuming a narrative fashion. He also tried some mimicry of the mother duck’s quacking, perhaps to reassure her of his empathy.

Jeremy and his boss surmised that a loud rock band on a nearby bridge had driven the two ducks up and out of the river. That band was part of some River District festivities meant to promote the “re-imagining” of that area which I mentioned earlier ( I guess none of the “imaginers” imagined their aural hoopla might frighten away some other two-legged creatures much more native to the River District than they).

The two men were trying to coax the two ducks into taking a direction in their waddling which would lead them back to the river. In “coaxing” the ducks, they were walking toward the ducks in a “riverly” direction.

At one point, duck and duckling were nestled against the stone supporting wall of the nearby District Court. Jeremy said to his boss (and friend): “This is a lot harder than when you saved that river turtle!”

The concern for duck and duckling’s safety was as contagious as televised sports, and I soon found my self cheering on both men and ducks!

The men made their way down to the river and succeeded in the ducks’ return there. Both were wearing their suits (men, not ducks, although ducks, like their relative the penguin sort of appear “suited up”). Inspired by this, my paraphrase of Psalm 107’s “They that go down to the sea in ships….” would be (and I mean no sacrilege): “They that go down to the river in suits, in aid of ducks.”

Jeremy and his employer work surrounded by shelved cases containing books of Law; but the law they followed in aid of mother duck and duckling is 2,000 years old, and could be paraphrased (and again,I mean no sacrilege): “Do unto a duck, that which you would have a duck do unto you.”

So now you know: “Why a duck?”

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