My very first memory of bird trauma happened when I was little. I must have been about six. The town we lived in had a beautiful city park that we visited a lot. There was a nice sized pond with a very large and diverse duck and geese population. (There was also a caged bird area with all sorts of exotic birds. I think it’s strange that a small town with a small park would have such an extensive bird collection. Misplaced priorities? I think so…)
These ducks and geese ruled the water and the grounds. They were well fed and had expectations; expectations that any human, no matter how small and defenseless, was a ready food source. Heaven help you if you came unprepared.
One day I was on the path that circled the pond keeping a watchful eye out so that the birds didn’t get too close. I had no food and nothing about me screamed “Here duck! Here is a person who wants to show you affection!” But ducks are wily creatures… Alone on the path I came head to head with a duck. I slowly backed away trying not to make eye contact – it was either that or play dead and who wants to play dead on the ground covered in duck poop? The duck didn’t take the hint. Rather, he smelled weakness and fear and took two steps forward for each step back I took.
I turned my back on the duck and started to walk away as quickly as I could but anxiety turned to panic as I realized that the duck was following me; at an increasingly rapid pace…and he was starting to quack. Quacking could only mean one thing: he was calling in reinforcements! Losing all sense of reason I took off at a run, frantically looking for my mom or any other caring adult who might save me. My mom wasn't in sight and no one else had clued into the danger I was in. Instead, I was being chased by a duck and providing everyone their comic relief of the day.
Realizing that I was alone, and that the duck was still waddle-running after me, I bowed my head and turned on the speed, sprinting around the pond as fast as I could. I made it ¾ the way around before finally checking behind me and finding the path clear and the terrorizing duck no where to be found. I was safe…until the next time…
A couple of things:
- No, it never occurred to me to run AWAY from the pond rather than AROUND it!
- Yes, I nursed a grudge against my mom for the rest of the day for not rescuing me (she had two other kids she was trying to keep track of – I realize this now).
- No, I have yet to conquer my instinct to run when faced with a bird. It’s not ‘fight or flight’ with these evil creatures! They would totally win in a fight, they have claws and beaks!!!