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Don’t Feed the Ducks

April 26, 2011

We watch a little girl feeding the ducks.

“The sign says not to feed the water birds,” I tell Badger.

“There’s no water in the pond,” he points out. “So they’re not technically water birds.” He frowns as he senses an impending grandpa-ism. “More importantly, I don’t think she should be out in the mud. There’s no telling how deep it is.”

We watch some more as the little girl ventures further and further out to maximise her duck feedage.

“She looks shorter,” I say after awhile.

“She looks stuck,” Badger corrects me.

It is true. The little girl has waded out too far and has sunk up to her knees. She twists and pulls in panic, and manages to yank one leg free. But as hard as she hauls at the other leg, trying to claw her way out of the mud, she remains irrevocably caught.

“Should we help?” Badger asks.

“You can’t do much with your bad back. Anyway, her mum’s giving it a go,” I reply. Really, it’s a lot more entertaining being a spectator.

The little girl’s mum gives up yelling instructions from the bank and climbs down into the mud. She inches gingerly forward until she too, predictably, becomes stuck.

This is hilarious.

Mother and daughter are now both shouting encouragement at each other. They hurl themselves from side to side. They shovel handfuls of mud away from their legs. It is like a cartoon. Why aren’t there more people stopping to watch?

Too late, I realise that the other park-goers are giving the stranded pair a wide berth to avoid being drafted into the drama. Mum spots Badger and me, and waves at us for help.

“Alright, we have to go now,” Badger decides.

Boo! I don’t want to climb into the mud! It smells horrible! For all I know, it’s not really mud, but rather duck poo accumulated over the years. I trudge after Badger.

But someone else hurries past us to help. Hooray, I am saved! My rescuer finds a discarded plank and a fallen branch, and turns them into a makeshift bridge to reach Mum. He is like MacGyver. MacGyver in shorts and thongs.

MacGyver tugs at Mum. I would go out to help too, but there isn’t space on the bridge. Anyway, I might be the only one with a smartphone – someone needs to be available to google “how to get out of mud“.

With their combined efforts, the mud finally relinquishes Mum with a reluctant schluk!. MacGyver and Mum manoeuvre the bridge so that they can get to the little girl, who is still valiantly scooping away.

“Take your shoes off!” I call out to Mum. “If you fall back in, it’ll be easier to pull your feet out again!”

“Great idea!” she calls back and wriggles out of her muddy shoes.

I turn to Badger and glow with pride. I have great ideas!

The bridge makes it to the little girl and she is quickly pulled out. Everyone looks dirty and exhausted. “Hooray!” I cheer them.

“Thanks,” Mum calls back.

I feel pretty chuffed. I resolve to come back tomorrow and see if I can save someone else again.

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