Duck, Duck, Goose!
The townhome we currently live in is hardly without problems. The back door leaks, our garbage disposal decided to randomly detach itself from the sink a couple of weeks ago, the floors creak, and there are cracks in the walls. Our unit, which is only about 5 or 6 years old, has walls so thin that I can hear the little girl next door as she giggles and plays in her room. We constantly find dog leftovers and cigarette butts outside our front door, discover kids on our back porch, and then have to deal with insane “market value” rent increases every year. I can’t wait to move.
The silver lining to all of this is the ducks that live in the pond behind our unit. Every year, they show up slowly and begin to have adorable babies. And every year, we make sure we spent as much time as we can feeding them and watching them. We have about sixty ducks living out there now, give or take a few. There are more in the other ponds in our complex. Between us throwing bread and grapes, the kids who love feeding them, and the elderly couple who throws out seed, they are a well taken care of bunch.
A few weeks ago, we noticed a solitary goose swimming alongside the ducks. Initially, I wasn’t happy about it. I’ve never seen a goose and been happy to be near it. They’re generally mean from what I’ve seen, chasing people and appearing menacing. This goose, however, was different. He had a terrible limp and one of his wings was damaged, unable to fold down properly. He had a heck of a time getting in and out of the water, as there are numerous rocks to navigate over. He was a sweet and strange bird.
We fed him along with the ducks. He was a brave thing, taking the bread right out of my hand in a curiously gentle way. Duds, with his tongue hanging out of his beak, often gets annoyed by the quickness of the ducks who will take bread he’s dropped from right underneath him. If he is so much as bumped by a duck or a flying piece of bread, he looks as if he goes into a panic, beak open wide and wings spread out everywhere. He follows the ducks up to our back porch and follow them back to the water when we went back inside. As the days passed, his limp got better and better until it was no more. His wing finally folded down properly and, two weeks ago, we saw him awkwardly take flight for the first time.
We named him Duddits, as he reminded us of the character from Dreamcatcher. I’m pretty sure whatever damaged his body also damaged his brain a bit, but he’s still pretty awesome. Every afternoon, we go out back and Duddits comes to see us and steal bread. Recently, he’s learned that he can get us to come out and see him by tapping his beak on our back door and peering through the blinds until he sees movement. Between him and the ducks, we’re outside at least once a day to see our feathered friends.
I like to think that, in some small way, we helped Duddits get healthy again. Eventually, he will fly south for the winter and that will be the last we see of him. It sounds silly, but that awkward bird truly made our summer. He was such an oddity and we had so much fun sitting out back with him and his duck friends. Our son thinks he is the coolest bird ever, and he’s right. I hate how attached I get to random animals, as I’m going to be seriously heartbroken once he’s gone. But who knows… maybe somehow Duds will find us again next summer and be once again tapping on our back door, looking for a handout.