The Slow-Cooked Sentence

Two mothers on missions

Rachael Conlin Levy

My children and I experienced a modern version of this classic story on our way to the grocery store today. A mother Mallard and her babies were crossing McCarran Boulevard as cars whizzed past going 50 miles per hour on the four-lane road.

“Mom! A mama duck and babies, Mom!” Max yelled from the rear.

I hung a U-turn and hopped out, trying to get the traffic’s attention. Cars slowed, drivers smiled and waved, but no one else stopped to help this little family cross the street and get over the concrete wall to safety. As we held our breath, the ducks made it to the other side but when they discovered the barricade, started to re-cross.

“Mom, what’s going to happen? Are they going to get hit?”

Cars swerved and honked their horns, so I hung another U-turn. By the time I hit the hazard button and hopped out, the mother and two babies had crossed, but the other ducklings couldn’t hop the curb and were trapped in the gutter. This caught the attention of a worker mowing the shopping center lawn, so he scooped them into the grass while I blocked traffic with my car.

“They’re looking for water and there’s water here with all the irrigation, so maybe they’ll stay,” the man said.

We called animal control and left them to finish our errands. As I tossed cans of lemonade into the grocery cart and wove my way through the crowded store, squawking at my own brood tailing me, I couldn’t help smiling at the similarities between the Mallard family and my own.

Here’s the intersection near the ducks’ crossing. If you head east on North McCarran Boulevard, you’ll pass a Ross clothing store and the lawn where we last saw the ducks.

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