A Duck's Dream
(c) 2017 Haylee V
Once upon a time, a mallard lived on a vast farm. The farmer spared no expense to ensure the happiness of his animals -- there was always plenty of seeds and grain, fresh water, a nice pond to swim in, and a comfortable, heated hutch to sleep in at night. But still, something was missing. Although the drake seemingly had all of the creature comforts the farmer could afford him, he knew he was little more than a prisoner in a cage. What the duck desired more than anything else was to be like his wild cousins -- FREE. Free to fly high into the sky -- to soar on gossamer wings to places yet unseen.
"You're a domestic duck," his friends would say. "Your wings are too weak to make the flight to the Southern Lands. Think of how good you have it here on the farm. The children ADORE you, and come daily to feed you crusts of bread. You have a warm place to sleep, and plenty of clean water to drink. You have a life of relative ease. Don't do anything foolish to jeopardize what you have."
But the duck would not be swayed. One day soon, he knew he would get his freedom.
About a week later, some local students came to the farm on a field trip. While they all oohed and aahed over the ducks, one student happened to unlatch the pen. The duck saw his opportunity and took it. Before the farmer could catch him, he had taken high in the sky, far away from the safe world he had known.
The duck flew for hours. With no plans, he soon found himself horribly lost. As night was falling, he managed to find a small pond to bed down in for the night.
The pond's waters were brackish, and a thick skin of algae covered the surface. Few insects came around the pond, and those that did were quickly caught and eaten by the bullfrogs. The water was foul, and unfit for the duck to drink. The duck found himself alone, hungry, thirsty, and tired. It was only then that the reality of Rule One took hold: In the wild, there is no fresh, clear water. No children with smiling faces feed you corn and bread. In the wild, it's every duck for himself, and you either adapt or go hungry.
His belly empty, the duck tried in vain to find a warm spot to bed down. Unfortunately, the squirrels, badgers, and bullfrogs had already taken possession of the choicest spots, so all the duck could do was catnap on a rotted log. Rule Two of survival in the wild: There are no cushy heated hutches. To survive, one must be willing to sacrifice comfort for concealment.
Unfortunately, the poor duck got very little sleep that night, as he was constantly shivering with cold, and his empty belly ferociously reminded him of the soft bread of home.
As dawn was breaking, the duck heard familiar voices coming from the underbrush. Men!, thought the duck. I'm saved. Surely one of them must have a crust of bread!
With renewed enthusiasm, the mallard began to quack quite loudly. As long as they can hear and find me, I stand a chance at a full belly.
One of the men quickly found the duck, and steadied his rifle. A flash of light tore through the sky, and the duck smelled the unmistakable odor of sulfur. Too late, he realized Rule Three of Survival: The hunter always gets his prey in the end.
The amenities others are afforded often look the most appealing to us once we start taking the luxuries we have for granted.
The grass MAY LOOK greener on the other side of the fence, but it's also probably loaded with herbicides, pesticides, and other chemicals...
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