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A lumpy day

Today was a lump-in-my-throat emotional kind of day. It got off to a lumpy start, and then the lump just stayed pretty close to the surface for the rest of the day.

On my walk to work, I came across a dead duck on Prince of Wales Drive. Roadkill. It was very sad. And pointless too, because he had wings and he could easily have flown across the road. He didn’t need to waddle through traffic.

And then, if that wasn’t sad enough, I spotted his widow keeping vigil on the other side of the road, just sitting in the grass looking lost and shocked.

I’ve seen this pair before – they always hang out in the same vicinity – and they looked much happier when they were both alive.

Mallards are one of those species that mate for life, which makes it infinitely more heartbreaking.

I crossed the road to see if she was okay, and she didn’t even budge until I got about two feet from her. Then she moved a few feet away. Poor thing. It was so sad. I wanted to do something to help, but what could I do? The only thing I could think of was to bring his body over to her, so she could get some closure.

But that just seemed weird. And it did occur to me that I was projecting human feelings onto the duck, and who knows what ducks really think and feel? But they must feel something if they mate for life, don’t you think? Do you think they grieve?

I didn’t do anything because I couldn’t think of anything helpful to do. I just told her I was sorry. I had a big aching lump in my throat.

A few minutes later I was crossing through a park to Carling Avenue, and the lump was starting to recede. That’s when I saw the dead frog in the middle of the path. It wasn’t as sad as the mallards, but it was sad enough to make the lump swell up again.

LCBO Swap BoxI felt a little better on the path beside the train tracks because I saw a bunny and it was alive. And then I cheered up some more when I got downtown and saw the new Swap Box where the Mayor Larry Swap Box used to be – thank you Elmaks. I left a Tarot card in the swap box and continued on to the gym.

Afterwards I went to a meeting and the lump came back and I was sitting there wondering why I was feeling so emotional about this meeting and was anybody else feeling the same way or was it just me?

After the meeting one of my friends stopped by my cubicle and asked “What did you think of that meeting?” and I tried to say something but the lump got in the way and then I was trying really hard to fight back the tears. (I wasn’t successful.) (I hardly ever cry at work.) (I wonder why it’s easier to listen without crying than it is to talk without crying?)

I walked home after work and looked for the ducks, but both of them were gone. I wonder where she went. I still wonder what she’s thinking and feeling.

GroundhogsNear where the ducks had been, I saw my first two groundhogs of the year. I love groundhogs.


18 comments to A lumpy day

  • Oh dear. I hear you on your lumpy day – the duck story was especially sad. Hope the Lump had a party with her best friend, Actually Crying, and that all are feeling a little better.

  • I had that kind of day on Monday. The ducks are just so sad though… I don’t blame you. Really it might be projection, but we’ll never know.

  • Give Duncan a big Squidge… it’ll help

  • Linda Anne

    Zoom – my husband and I had the same experience with ducks a few years ago. Each year two pairs of ducks would arrive on our street and stay for months. They would sometimes float around in our pool, spend time on neighbours lawns etc. We, along with some of our neighbours looked forward each year to their arrival. One morning we came to the intersection of our streets and found the female lying dead and the husband trying in vain to rouse her – he would not leave her side. Needless to say I was upset all the way to work and worried about his safety. I called the Humane Society and they gave me the number to call to have the duck picked up. I was one of many calls. For the next few years the same ducks would return – the two mates and the lone duck. He would follow them around – so sad. We haven’t seen them for a while, but we hope they just found a new neighbourhood to hang in.

    Cheers – Linda Anne

  • Giles

    Perhaps the duck widow and the frog widow could offer Duncan some pointers on how not to dash in front of cars. (I guess this is a PS to your earlier post re. Duncan and your perception of his yearning for the great outdoors). Not to get morbid on ya or anything, but a lump in the throat doesn’t hold a candle to the anguish of losing a beloved feline companion because of a road accident, or antifreeze (we lost two cats in as many years because of antifreeze in our neighbourhood). I used to say, like Melinda in her earlier comment, “At least when they are gone [I] can say [I] gave them everything they ever wanted or needed and they lived a full life.” I stopped saying it after I had to retrieve my dead cat from the road with a shovel (’nuff detail); after the crying, the lump in the throat didn’t go away for a week.

    Forewarned is forearmed.
    Like I said, not to get morbid or anything…
    [closing note: I love cats to bits, but they’re about as smart as ducks and frogs when it comes to man-made hazards.]

    Wishing you an un-lumpy Wednesday!

  • Helen

    Oh dear, that is very sad about the duck. I hope you are feeling cheerier now. Maybe the duck widow will meet another nice mallard and remarry (I hope ducks do that as well as humans). Definitely a good idea to give Duncan a hug, there is something very comforting about a big furry cat-hug.

  • XUP

    I don’t think you’re projecting. I think it’s pretty clear that animals have some sort of an emotional awareness. It may not be exactly like humans’ and it may vary between species, but we can see they feel fear and separation anxiety, loneliness; they respond to kindness, they express joy, anger, frustration; they get depressed when caged up for long periods of time. They miss their mates and offspring when they disappear. I also think they don’t enjoy being farmed, slaughtered or eaten, but that’s just an opinion.

    I’m sorry you’re feeling lumpy. I’ve had a few days like that myself. Maybe it’s a spring thing or a grey day thing or an impending milestone thing.

  • Rita

    Ok… What if the Mallard was really only having an affair with
    the poor Girl and he just didn’t want to go home to the fat wife
    with all the kids…Just kidding zoom.! Smile it’s spring
    Like Valerie said give Duncan a big hug

  • Carmen

    Shit. Now, I have a lump. Sorry Zoom… and I sorta agree with Giles. Pantouffle never went out. He died at 17…of old age. Monet never goes out. They were and are indoor cats because there are roads and drivers out there….

  • I’m sorry bout your lump Zoom, I get like that too sometimes and its a big combination of overwelmingly good and bad stuff and it usually happens in spring when all the trees are bursting forth with buds like popcorn and life is coming alive all around me…

    As for pets and an indoor outdoor life – I doubt that mallard would have seen a cage and clipped wings as a good life, there are worse fates than dying in your prime.

    I won’t use my indoor/outdoor geriatric cat as an example of anything – but I think we all have to look at why we keep pets, and our relationship with nature and other beings when we make PERSONAL decisions like this.

  • Oh, and Zoom…mallards mate for life then both the drake and duck fool around a lot – 1/3 of their offspring are not the mated drake’s babies. Mallard ducks do “remarry” too. While I DO believe that animals have emotional lives and attachments, they are like us in other ways too :-) Monogamy has a lot of childrearing benefits, but not so many social or genetic benefits it seems.

  • I think anyone who says an animal understand about traffic is just fooling themselves. It’s just luck that so many of them don’t get run over. My heart aches for the duck. I have seen similar things and it never fails to move me and sometimes, it takes a long time to get over it. But I guess we do get over things eventually.

  • Julia,

    I think you’re under estimating animals.

    Biologists that study corvids (crows, ravens, jays) have watched them bring food to roads and drop it on the road to wait for cars to “tenderize” it for them. They are using cars as tools. Granted, corvids are extremely intelligent, but animals adapt and learn from their environment all the time.

  • Thanks, you guys. I feel much better today even though I found the male duck’s body again. (Why I do these things to myself is beyond me.)

    Linda Anne, that’s so sad about your duck tagging along after the mated pair for YEARS. I hope my duck finds a new mate.

    Gilles, actually it wasn’t a post script to the indoor/outdoor cat thing – I didn’t even see the connection till you pointed it out. My downstairs neighbours in my old neighbourhood lost a lovely young cat to antifreeze. Her name was Willow. The community garden is named after her: Sweet Willow Garden.

    Mudmama – good points.

  • OK -I want to cry now too! Poor Mrs. Mallard! We just had a duck that was in the road as well with its wings up like it swooped down by accident & hit the road – it made me cry every time I saw it – but finally, someone got him off the road as well. It just breaks my heart!

  • XUP

    mudmama – are you suggesting that perhaps the duck was…murdered…by a fiendishly clever (and rather robust) crow?

  • sheila

    Zoom, I agree with you on so many subjects but alas, not groundhogs. I’ve lost too many vegetables and flowers to the greedy little buggers.

  • oma

    Sheila … you would love them if you got to know them … they are as clean as cats and as playful as puppies … and some are very very smart.

    They are deathly afraid of the smell of dog so you might try using dog hair as a deterrent near your garden. Now is a good time to get it from dog owners who are brushing out winter coats.