Tuesday, June 25, 2013


I’ve come to expect a remarkable bird interaction any time I’m on the road.  Pelicans at the beach.  Woodpecker in the woods.  Owls at Klamath. 
I wasn’t disappointed this weekend.  We were in Astoria doing an event, and though I had to wait until we were on the way home to experience my encounter, it was a doozy.  And it wasn’t with a swallow, or an eagle, or a raven (though we were surrounded by raven call the whole time we were at the fairgrounds…I’m sure that has some significance as well.)  This exchange was with birds I never would have imagined in a million years. 
We were driving home along Highway 30 in a little convoy—my husband dragging the U-haul carrying the equipment, followed by my sister and brother-in-law towing our living quarters, with me and my other sister bringing up the rear in my van.  Oh, and a wagon train of all manner of other vehicles returning to Portland from their weekend at the beach.  Halfway home, we’re slowing down to traverse the downtown of the sleepy little town of Clatskanie, and everything S-T-O-P-S at the one traffic light in the middle of town.  The light is green, I’m about six cars back, and no one is moving. 
Eventually I perceive that the cars ahead are attempting to dodge an obstacle in the middle of the intersection.  I get a glimpse of something white and wiggly and low to the ground…what the hell is it?
Ummm….ducks.  It’s ducks.  Three big fat white farm ducks, determinedly consuming something that some idiot had brilliantly thrown out of a car window, right into the middle of the road.  Those ducks were busy.  They were eating.  And no amount of horn honking, diesel revving, or hollering out the car window was going to budge them. 
So Sister #1 gets out of her truck and attempts to shoo the ducks off the road.  Which results in getting them out of the way long enough for my brother-in-law to slide past before they could get back to that thing that they were by god going to risk life and limb to get down their gullets.  No sooner had sister jumped back in the truck and BIL navigated over the repast than those ducks scooted right back into the middle of the road and stuck to it like glue. 
Then Sister #2 jumps out of my van, runs up to the front of the line and starts screaming and waving like a madwoman at the ducks.  Between her efforts and those of a volunteer fire fighter coming from the other direction, they manage to get the birds off the road and onto the sidewalk.  But Mr. Firefighter jumps back in his SUV and drives away, leaving my sister to fend off the three wayward fowl, who are obviously plotting how to get around her and get back to the blacktop.  The patience of the other drivers is dwindling—they’ve had their giggle and they want to go home now.  Which does not bode well for the ducks.  Not to mention my sister.
So I maneuver the van into the center island, hit the flashers and get out to rush to the aid of…all.  Keep in mind, we have just finished up at a Scandinavian festival, and I am NOT in my civvies.  I am, in fact, still dressed in my full Scandinavian regalia: mid-calf dirndl skirt, high-collared blouse, vest, stockings and white eyelet apron.  I’m sure I looked for all the world like a dust-bowl farm wife flitting around the barnyard tending to the chickens.  Felt pretty ridiculous, too…but I was not going to let my reluctance to look stupid overcome my determination to make sure that those silly ducks did not end up piles of blood, bones and feathers pasted all over the highway.
We herded those dumb birds for a good ten minutes (up the sidewalk, down the sidewalk, up the sidewalk, down the sidewalk, up and back down and almost…no, you don’t—not back in the street) before we finally got them to scurry around a fence that barred their access to the river.  Once their big webbed feet touched the path they had followed UP the bank, they hied themselves hither unto the creek, casting insulted glances over their shoulders (do ducks have shoulders?) and falling over one another in their haste to put distance between themselves and the hooting, waving harpies so rudely determined to separate them from their death-wish dinner.
Bird carnage safely averted, sister and I were free to saunter as nonchalantly as possible back to our vehicle and continue our voyage home.
Ah…  My life would be so much less remarkable without the birds the Almighty chooses to send my way.             

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