While my girls were playing with water balloons on the front lawn last Thursday, we had a strange visitor. The girls were running around, and found a baby duck by our mail box.
We live about half a mile from the river, but a baby duck? In our yard?
So we gathered it up, and I called our vet to figure out what on earth we were gonna do with this little fellow- whether to take him to the animal shelter, or just what.
The on-call veterinarian told me that ducklings rarely survive & thrive when raised by people. She also told me that their best chance of survival was to find a mama duck with babies. Any mama duck. And the age of the babies didn't matter too much. She said that ducks can't count, so if they see a baby they just assume it's one of theirs.
Beth and I drove the truck over to the pond off of Geist by University Park Elementary, 'cuz I've seen ducks with their families there on my walks with the girls (but there was no way I could walk the 10 minutes or so with my cast). I prayed on the way over that we'd find a mama duck with babies, and Beth prayed that she'd accept this baby. I had remembered correctly!
There was a mama duck with babies about the same size as the one on our lawn!! But we couldn't get down there to the pond 'cuz I had the cast on, and Beth (silly Beth!) had on flip-flops. The ducks were at the other end of the pond, down a steep rocky hill and out across a marshy muddy meadow.
So, I asked God what we should do. And a family walked by- a mom, a dad, three boys and a baby in a stroller. I asked the mom if she'd send one of her boys down to the other end of the pond with the duckling, and she thought it was a great idea. She got her oldest, and while he took the baby down there we told her what the vet had said. As soon as he left the baby in the water (and walked away) the mama quacked her way over to the duckling and tugged it into the rest of her little fleet. She had them all swimming in formation by the time the boy got back.
Then we got to hear his mom explain what the vet had said- that this duck probably wasn't the baby's mama, but that she would adopt the baby.
I came away with a profound sense of God's timing:
If we hadn't had the girls out playing, we wouldn't have found the duckling and it probably would have died. (Seriously, we aren't ANYWHERE near where that poor little thing could have found it's way home. I have no idea how it got on my lawn. Very weird.)
If I hadn't gotten the vet tech I got, we might have taken it to the shelter, and the baby probably wouldn't have made it.
If I hadn't walked by that pond and noticed ducks last year, we might have just taken the duckling to the river, and the baby probably wouldn't have made it.
If the family hadn't walked by, we might have just left the baby at the end of the pond we could get to easily.
If that boy hadn't gone out there, he wouldn't have learned about adoption in such a physical visual way.
I was also reminded that God gives family to the orphan, that God's plan is for us to nurture and care for those who are alone.
God, thanks for the duckling. Thank you that the girls found it, and we got to be part of returning it to a safe home.