|Photo taken by Daria Hofer|
While this feathered family is having the time of their lives, the Hutterite families living along that river marvel at their antics and how fast they grow. With mother duck always close by, the ducklings swim and dive in this slow moving river, or sun themselves on the shore. Other times the family waddles across the road for more water games. It seems that they haven’t yet discovered the culvert would take them there as well.
One day, ten year old Daria, noticed one duckling missing. Ever sensitive where animals are concerned, she anxiously looked up and down the river and asked, “Dad, there’s one baby duck missing. Have you seen it?”
“I think I saw one running across the road a little while ago.” Her dad replied, obviously less worried and far to busy to even wonder if it might get lost or worse. As far as Daria was concerned though, this was an emergency. While she raced to the road bridging the river, all kinds of scenarios raced through her head. And none of them pretty. Someone could accidently drive over it. It could get lost in the reeds. Then there are always cats prowling around. I love cats, but don’t you dare go near that duckling!
Out of breath, but ready to do whatever it takes to reunite this family, she arrived at the place where her dad saw the duckling. Right behind Daria’s house, there’s grass along the river, this stretch has high reeds on one side and big rocks on the other, adding a few more scenarios to Daria’s Duckling Dangers list: It could fall and get hurt along the steep bank and maybe even get stuck between the rocks! I have to find it!
Standing by the culvert, her eyes roam over the area. Must be in the water, can’t see it along the bank. Yes! There sitting in the reeds she spots it, looking sad and lost. “Kumm do her, Antl. Do konnst do durch.” (Come ducky. You can go through here.) She coaxes from her spot near the culvert, to no avail. I guess ducks don’t know Hutterisch.
Then Daria stops calling and stays quiet to see if the duckling is saying anything. Then she hears a weak, “Cheep, cheep, cheep.” Trying not to scare her friend, she quickly goes closer and calls softly, “Cheep, cheep, cheep.” Slowly the duckling moves towards her. She makes her way to the culvert, all the while, cheeping, with the duckling following. Daria darts to the other side, still doing her best imitation of duckese to encourage the duckling to swim through. Finally, it understands and swims through the culvert, where its family had been all along. The lost duckling sees them, excitedly runs on the water and is reunited with the family.
Unaware of Daria beaming from the culvert, the duck family gathers around their wandering duckling, happy to be together. “I always know which one was lost.” Daria informs me. “He’s always some distance away from the others.”