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Urban Quest Field Note #176: The opposite direction can make all the difference

I usually walk west on the path at the lake, but last Saturday, I walked in the opposite direction.

Heading around the curve adjacent to the softball fields, I spotted a duck (species unknown), that was flapping along the surface of the water, clearly snagged by something.  The angle of its approach showed the flashing of something gold attached to its right wing – foot.  It attempted to free itself, flapping about as it headed directly towards me.  Eventually, it found its way into the brush and rested still for a moment.  Looking down on it, I couldn’t see what had it ensnared.  Three or four others had gathered by that point, offering conjectures about the issue at hand. The animal was clearly in distress and needing help.

Soon it flew up on the path right at our feet.  At that point, the fish hook and line were apparent.  “Does anyone have a pocket knife,” I asked aloud, thinking this would at least decrease the tension of the line and the risk of further entanglement.  Almost as soon as I said this, one of the men squatted down to take a closer look.  The duck remained quiet and still as he gently placed his hand on her back to keep her still. He then reached back to dislodge the 3-prong fish hook attached to her right foot.  The removal drew bright red blood oozing onto her orange webbed coverings. She didn’t move, allowing this rescue to unfold.  He was careful to hold the hook tightly so as to avoid getting snagged himself.   She sensed the release and limped off. I tracked her for a moment, but she seemed like she would be just fine without further assistance.

As part of the clean-up, another fellow rescuer pulled and pulled at the fishing line, gathering what seemed to be an endless supply from a hidden spool beneath the surface of the water. I climbed down closer to the water’s edge to see if I could see the spool to pull it out.  Naturally, the fishing tackle debris needed to be removed so another water being would not meet a worse fate.  Finally, the invisible spool gave way to the last length of line.

In just those few moments, it was an inspiring feeling to be a part of a rescue mission for a helpless being in clear need of assistance. We all seemed to know and do our part in the sharing of the task.  One man commented to me, “I’m so glad you spotted her.”  I smiled.  Reminded me of my days as a lifeguard.