Saturday, December 1, 2012

Duck, Duck, Splat!

Anyone who knows me, knows that I am happiest when I'm on my bike.
Arriving at the finish line at RAGBRAI 2012
(Register's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa)

RAGBRAI was a 7 day, 471 mile ride across the great (and hilly) state of Iowa. I love to ride the challenging hills and miles but on most days, I'm looking for a relaxing meditative ride.

The other day I was on a short bike ride. I do a 15 mile loop around the south side of Lincoln that takes me through parks, by an outdoor mall, through residential backyards and over a major highway.  Along part of the route, there is a shallow concrete water slough that cuts through some backyards. Unless it's raining, the slough only has a couple of inches of water in it. It's a peaceful, slow babbling waterway where moss lines nearly its entire expanse.

As I was riding along this meandering bike trail, I heard something over my right shoulder. When I looked, there was a beautiful, green necked mallard duck slowly gliding beside me, over the waters of the slough. He looked over at me, made eye contact and then went back to his business of flying. I slowed down to watch him, envying his freedom of flight.

Slowly and silently he glided beside me which added to the serene meditative state that I was in, then the duck decided it was time. He lowered his landing gear and I knew in an instant that he was not prepared for what was about to happen.

When the ducks feet hit the water, you could tell he was expecting to land in a amount sufficient enough to give him a soft and safe landing but because of the shallow condition of the slough, what happened instead was that his feet made contact with the mossy concrete causing him to flip beak over butt through the water.

I, of course, hit my brakes. I don't know what I thought my qualifications were to help.  I don't know if there is a thing called duck CPR but I was prepared to try.  When he finally stopped rolling through the mossy water, he shook his feathers and composed himself. Again our eyes met.  Obviously embarrased, he turned his back to me, settled into the water, pretending that he was floating there the whole time.

I started riding my bike again but the farther I got, the more tickled I got. I kept picturing the ducks eyes as he landed and flipped. I had 6 more miles to ride before I was home and everyone I met must have thought I was bat shit crazy with that silly smile on my face.

It's true, I'm the type of person who laughs when someone runs into a glass patio door that they think is open. I watch Funniest Home Videos and can hardly stop laughing at some of them. There is one video of cat that was stuck to a clothes basket that caused me to laugh so hard it required a change of clothing. Yep, it was that funny and even thinking of it now makes me giggle.

So what's the moral of this story? There isn't one, if you're looking for a moral, you're reading the wrong blog. But if there was a moral to this story I suppose it would be this, "Sometimes you just have to shake off your feathers and say, 'I meant to do that'"


  1. Poor duck, that story made me giggle. Juneau once had a very similar experience that involved her, running and a surprisingly steep hill. I nearly died it was so funny!

    1. I can picture that! Juneau is a funny dog!

  2. Was walking on a raised trail in a forest on Kodiak Island in the 90's and felt a whoosh of wind against my cheek. It was a Bald Eagle swooping up into its nest. I stopped to watch. The huge bird began to feed its eaglet a dead rabbit. It was an amazing experience ... one I will never forget. Not as endearing as your sweet duck story but a bird tale (tail?) nonetheless.