After Mary Schmich wrote her column about the pandemic and Honey the Duck at Botany pond, she received a lot of email, with some readers wanting to contact me. She forwards me those emails so I’m free to respond if I wish. I always do, but here’s one that came about a week ago, via Mary, that I found particularly touching. A kindred spirit and fellow mallard-phile!
I quote the letter, and the writer’s name, with his permission. The last line is very touching!
Mary, first of all, I always read your column. You are great (I still read the paper newspaper and just an aside in college during the summer I worked overnights in the Tribune’s pressroom). After reading today’s article about the professor feeding the ducks I had to tell you–and hope you can forward my email to Professor Coyne.
I am a retired (now 72) high school counselor who loved his job and always had an office filled with wonderful adolescents. My office faced a large totally enclosed courtyard. About 10 years before I retired one spring day in late April what should appear outside my window but a mother duck and about 10-12 baby ducks. I think mother duck thought the enclosed courtyard would be safe from predators, which in a way it did. However, there was no access to water.
First I had to put signs on all the doors to the courtyard warning students NOT to chase or try to pick up the baby ducks. The babies were so small so I bought a bunch of pie tins and filled them with water and they would swim in them. I also bought duck food. As the ducks got a little bigger I bought aluminum baking pans that they swam in. Next, as they continued to grow I bought a child-size plastic pool with a board to be used as a ramp.
Well, by the time the 10-12 ducks got pretty big I had to buy more pools (a total of 5) as they needed their own space. Finally sometime in July they would fly away. Even though I wasn’t working in the summer I would still come back and scrub out the pools and feed them daily. One year the water was turned off in the courtyard so I had to connect 3 or 4 hoses and run them from the janitor’s closet down the hall through the administrative and counseling office in order to reach the courtyard so I could refill the pools. I am certain the same mother came back for a number of years. This went on until 2 years before I retired when they didn’t return. I was glad in a way because I would have worried if I wasn’t there for them.
I loved those ducks.Rick Watson Ph.D.Retired counselor