SOLC Day 6: The Duck Incident


March 2019 SOLC–Day 6
A huge thank you to Two Writing Teachers for all that they do to create an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write, learn, share and grow.

Even now it’s hard to sort out exactly what happened.

My friend, Roger, and I stood on the bridge as the day brightened about us. Below us the small merganser duck community swam around, dipping their heads into the frigid water again and again. We moved along the bridge, scanned the sky for the bald eagles and snapped photos of this and that.


Suddenly, something moved in my peripheral vision, and I looked up to catch sight of a small group of mergansers flying in low over the bridge. Turning to see, I watched horrified as one of them flew directly into the power lines. There were muffled thuds and the poor bird careened from line to line and then tumbled through the lines and onto the road and across the bridge to land in a feathered heap at Roger’s feet.


Roger and I stared shocked at the duck and then at each other. I’m not sure we even had time to speak.

Then, the duck awkwardly unfolded itself  and raced across the road and jumped into the water. We raced over to see. Our reactions emerged in a jumble of questions and exclamations.

“Oh no! Is it okay?”
“What just happened?”
“I think it’s okay! It’s swimming.”
“That was crazy! I’ve never seen anything like it.”

After we’d gathered our wits about us and reassured ourselves that the duck seemed fine, it struck me. During the craziness of the moment, I had taken pictures.

“Roger,” I said, “I took pictures. What kind of person am I?! That poor duck! And I took pictures!… I’m kind of horrified with myself.

I was sure I’d only taken pictures after the duck was up and running, but the whole thing had unfolded so quickly. And, wow, I took pictures. I mean, I know I already had my camera in hand, but I feel like I should have been doing something else–though I’m not sure exactly what. Roger reassured me multiple times that there hadn’t been anything I could do to help the duck. Still, I felt slightly ashamed–like I was a member of some relentless duck paparazzi. Funny…but not…

Back at home, I was relieved to see that my downloaded photos confirmed that I took photos only after the duck was clearly untumbled and on its way to the refuge of the river. Still…it feels like I got awfully close to some sort of boundary that I do not want to cross.


31 thoughts on “SOLC Day 6: The Duck Incident

  1. amyilene says:

    I was completely engrossed in this slice…by the writing and by the content! You captured the moment, clearly & beautifully, in all its simplicity and grandeur.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I always get real in your blogs. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Patty McLaughlin says:

    Yikes! But nice shot!

    Sent from my iPad


    Liked by 1 person

  4. Anonymous says:

    Beautiful photo! Poor duck, though.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. dianeandlynne says:

    I get your unease. In this era where our devices provide immediate verification of our experiences, it becomes comfortable to record everything…even the things we probably shouldn’t.
    Your story is well told. I saw the entire incident even without the pictures.

    Liked by 1 person

    • mbhmaine says:

      You nailed it, Diane! I don’t take many cell phone pictures and no videos, but there is a boundary with photography that can be overstepped. I got closer than I would like.


  6. Judith A Mansour says:

    What an incredible moment. And I felt as if I were watching it unfold. Nicely done, Molly. The photo is absolutely gorgeous.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Adrienne says:

    Your tag line on the TWT page caught my eye. Would this be a funny post? No, not at all. You take us from serenity to horror in a moment. I was horrified right there with you. I am glad the the sweet merganser was OK.

    Liked by 1 person

    • mbhmaine says:

      Thankfully it seemed to be! We watched for a little bit after it was back with the other ducks, but couldn’t keep track of which duck it was….I suppose that was a good indicator that it was fine.


  8. margaretsmn says:

    Coming close to the boundary between wild animals and humans is both scary and exciting. I’m glad the duck was OK. I get a lump in my throat anytime I pass road kill.

    Liked by 1 person

    • mbhmaine says:

      I used to swear I was going to make a bumper sticker that read, “I brake for wooly bears.” (Do you have those down there? They’re large fuzzy brown and black caterpillars. So cute!)


  9. jsementelli says:

    Great slice! You kept my attention the whole time- and loved the photos! Thanks for sharing- I’m glad the duck was ok!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Kim K says:

    Had to click through to see what happened. I too, feel your unease. That poor duck!


  11. terierrol says:

    You had me totally immersed in the story, so happy it ended well. The details painted the picture along with your beautiful photos.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. mgminer says:

    I’m glad I started with early posters today because your post was not only a well-told story, it brought up something I’ve wondered about too. Usually, I’m the one fumbling in my purse and I miss the photo opportunity! But I think the larger issues of boundaries in the wider culture need to become a conversation.

    And of course, I always love a nature story. Especially ones from Maine.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. That was a crazy moment, and even crazier that you had your camera. I think I laughed a little out loud when you called yourself the duck paparazzi, and I think you’re hard on yourself.

    Liked by 1 person

    • mbhmaine says:

      I pretty much always have my camera! I head down to the river a lot to take pictures. Photography often feeds my writing and typically helps me slow down (just like writing). And thanks for the final comment. I appreciate that.


  14. kd0602 says:

    In some ways the photos you take of the bird’s action fall in the category of documentary photos rather than sensational photos. It’s all about purpose! (Glad the duck was okay! Such an odd accident to witness!)

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Amanda Potts says:

    I read this just before school this morning and then, well, life. But I’ve been thinking about it because I’m with Melanie: I loved the line “duck paparazzi” and I think you’re too hard on yourself. When we’re absorbed by doing something – especially something we love – and chaos occurs, our reactions are unpredictable. We may do what is habitual (click the shutter) or panic or slow down or… You didn’t set out to photograph something chaotic; you just experienced a slowed set of reactions that meant you kept doing what you were already doing. We see this with photojournalists, too. I’m hereby forgiving you in case you haven’t done so already. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • mbhmaine says:

      Thanks so much for taking time out to craft such a thoughtful response and for the vote to forgive myself. I’ve been thinking about the moment a lot. I’ve decided to take it as a lesson to be more sensitive to boundaries and the potentially invasive nature of photography. (and to be thankful that I don’t really like to take photos of people! lol)

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Alice Nine says:

    I was transfixed as I read … then I scrolled to comment and saw Amanda’s comments. I agree with her! What more can I say? Oh… and I’m glad the duck is a survivor.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. […] I kept watching in wonder at the strength it must take to fly in place, when suddenly the bird appeared closer, and much larger.  I kept taking photos as the bird seemed to fall from the sky!  (I’m thinking of you and your duck, Molly!) […]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s