It all started innocently enough. I’ve been feeling out of synchrony with life for quite a while and I’ve found out that long walks in nature help me get in a better mood. So, like other days, around noon I set out for my regular route that winds along ponds and between fields of ripe, golden corn.
Right after I had left the village behind, I saw two little ducklings. And I thought, Cute.
But the little guys seemed distressed. They were running along a railing in the outlet of a pond, and I noticed that the railing separated them from their mother and siblings who stayed nearby but couldn’t reach them either. I have absolutely no idea how the two got where they were, but they looked unable to squeeze themselves through the gaps in the railing and reunite with their family. They needed help.
The walls of the outlet are made of concrete blocks. Some of them are crumbling. The whole thing doesn’t exactly invite anyone to explore it more closely by their hands and feet. Still, I’m sure that to climb down wouldn’t be a problem for a fit person. For me – that’s a different story.
I write for kings and princes but am nowhere close to their physical prowess. But when I see little ducklings in distress, I do find bravery in my heart. Through a large patch of nettles I went and somehow climbed down into the outlet trough. On the way down I told myself that to get back up couldn’t be more difficult than to hoist myself into the saddle of a horse (I of course forgot that the last time when I rode a horse was ten years ago at least).
By the time I reached the poor little prisoners, one of the ducklings was so afraid that he managed to squeeze himself through the railing and get on the pond. Not so the other. After a while, I managed to catch the little guy. He was so small and his heart was beating madly as I held him in my hands. I leaned over the railing to get him in the water, he squirmed, and in the water he went. Well, better said, he went under the water. I froze. In that moment I thought that all my bravery actually led only to him getting drowned. Half a heartbeat later, it struck me that ducks dive. They are meant to dive. But he wasn’t coming up. I was about to tumble over the railing to grope for him under the water when I saw him a few meters away, quacking loud for his mama and paddling toward her with his tiny feet with all his strength. It felt so good to watch him.
But it was time to get the savior saved too. After a couple of attempts to get out of the trough, it dawned on me that it would actually be more difficult than to hoist myself in the saddle. So, I contemplated my options. I could shout for help. That was not a particularly appealing choice though. I may lack the physical prowess of Vlad III or Henry VIII, but I don’t lack a certain amount of pride. My other option was to wade through another dirty pond on the other side of the outlet trough and then somehow, somewhere find a slope which I could climb up. That wasn’t a good option either, but in the absence of a ladder, it seemed to be a reasonable way how to get out of the trap. I reflected that soon enough I was going to feel just as wet and humiliated as Henry VIII when a pole broke under his weight and he fell into a muddy ditch. I resigned myself to sharing the experience with His Majesty, only I resolved not to get my head under the water, since I didn’t have a trusted retinue with me. In other words, nobody who would pull me out.
As I stood there in drying mud, a large frog peeked out of a gap between two stones. It said, “Quack.” I stared at it, it stared right back. Then it repeated more urgently, “Quack.”
I thought, Thank you very much for a helpful suggestion. As I was lost in that moment of sarcasm, it struck me that if I found a rock large enough to use as a stepping stone, I might have just the thing needed to help me out of the trough. I found myself one by the other pond, carried it over to the lowest block of concrete onto which I needed to climb, and soon enough I was out of the trough and in the nettles.
I got stung pretty badly in the course of the unexpected rescue mission, but I was a miracle in someone’s life today. And I realized that when you think you need a ladder and your life sends you a frog instead, it isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Thank you, Life, for a gentle lesson/ reminder.
PS: the photo is the courtesy of Karen Arnold. I’ve found it on PublicDomainPictures.net. My little guy from today looked just like this one.