Just about the time I get to thinking miracles are for those “less enlightened” than I (what, me have an ego?), one comes trundling along to smack me in the face. Or in the derrière, which is probably where I deserve it and where it is more effective.
Several of us worked for days trying to figure out how to reconfigure the duck pen to accommodate the ten tiny, new members of Duckville, while at the same time protecting them from the dangers of life in the form of raptors. In the first place, we should have known better; Mother Nature is Protector Extraordinare, and no matter how hard we try and how noble our intentions, we could never compete with her in the protection game.
Stupidity and hubris notwithstanding, we struggled to get some kind of roof designed and installed over the heads of our growing flock. By yesterday afternoon (day three of the Protect the Ducks Marathon) we were all tired, near the end of ideas and sunburned. We finally landed on a possibility, which was not exactly lovely but appeared to be somewhat functional, and were in the process of making it happen.
At that moment Simon decided the time was ripe to enter the pen and see what he could see. The two mother ducks flashed into action and began screaming, flapping, snapping and attacking with talons extended (a very scary enterprise, I can assure you). The dog was flummoxed, the big ducks were in vicious attack mode, and the mini-ducks scattered in every direction at several miles short of the speed of light. One of the sisters grabbed for Simon, just as one of the ducklings dashed underfoot.
You know what’s coming.
The sister realized that she had landed not on hard ground but on soft duckling. For a moment everything seemed to hang in mid-shock, and then panic resumed, though now in the direction of disaster having struck in the most awkward, painful, scary and sad way.
There is no, and I mean NO, possible way that 100-plus pounds of human can land on an ounce of so of air-boned duckling without disastrous results. The little creature lay squawking on the ground, back arched, clearly unable to do more than flop like a yellow and gray fluffy fish out of water.
My practiced lay-medical eye diagnosed a broken back; low enough not to cause death, but high enough to cause major and permanent damage. I’m certainly not a medical expert, but I know a mortally wounded bird when I see one. I also decided the little duck was not in pain, though I’m pretty sure that evaluation was more from my need than the duckling’s medical condition.
Sr. Emmanuel, our resident bird rehab expert, rushed over, took one look and started crying. Carefully she reached for the little one, and (miracle number one) the two mommy ducks backed off and let her pick up the wounded duckling.
She gently cradled it in her hands against her heart; as she walked carefully toward the house, she said that she could at least keep it comfortable. The rest of us, subdued into near silence, finished the temporary enclosure, cleaned up our mess and headed back to the house.
Sr. Emmanuel found a duckling-sized basket, wrapped the patient in a very soft cloth and kept it hydrated with eyedroppersfull of water. We all eventually went to bed, each to her own private nightmares.
* * * * * * * *
This morning we awoke to furious chirping; clearly not Ziggy the parakeet but definitely from inside the house. Sister had named her tiny patient “Chipper”; we all understood whence, and accepted, this naming.
Somehow, in the dark of night when inky terrors tend to strike even the strongest among us, a second miracle was taking place. The mortally-wounded Chipper was transforming into a chirpy, wobbly-but- upright five-day-old duckling. When I saw him make a nearly successful leap out of a foot-high box, I knew the Miracle Worker had been to visit.
So … was it God-with-a-Magic-Wand? I don’t think so. I think it was Chipper with a little heart of possibility, Sr. Emmanuel with a heart of unbounded love, a bunch of scared sisters with hearts of deep desire.
After all, isn’t that the way an effective Miracle Worker operates?
Oh, by the way, Chipper and his little pal Bob-o-Link (the little sibling Sister Emm brought up to keep Chipper company this morning) were both reunited with the rest of the flock later today. You have to look carefully to spot the one little, slightly Parkinsonian fluff-ball in the middle of the cloud of dashing ducklings. By tomorrow, I doubt any of us will be able to pick her (him?) out of the crowd.
I don’t care how you explain it. To me, it was a Class A miracle.