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It’s life in motion with inbound ducklings
PEMA AND SUSHI may not know it yet, but they have just landed in a duckling’s paradise at Jane’s rural retreat...oh you lucky ducks.

VIOLA - Newton’s first law, that an object will not change its motion unless a force acts on it, reminds me of a stagnant time in my life, over 20 years ago, when I answered a personal ad. Chances are that one ad had sat there unanswered until I responded. 

In doing so, I set a wheel in motion that brought me to this area shortly after the start of the new millennium. I've never left.

Recently, I was reminded of my inability to simply read ads and refrain from responding.


Anybody want a baby duck?”said a recent post on Facebook.“Fresh hatched, as in still with the shell. Mother abandoned nest and we thought the eggs were rotten until this one peeped. Needs someone to take care of it. Please pm (personal message), if interested. I can meet you to deliver.”


“I’ll take it!” I typed in response, adding that I’d rather not drive to Onalaska, so would there be a chance of meeting halfway? Having set the wheel in motion, I then went to bed.

In the morning, before I had time to rub the sleepy seeds from my eyes, I received a reply saying, “A young woman named Emily has the baby duck in Viroqua. She will be messaging you.”

There weren't any other messages yet, so I headed out for a long hike. When I returned there still wasn’t a message—and this is where things start getting complicated. 

I contact my friend Kim, who knows the duckling's house-mother, Donna, who originally posted the ad on which Kim had tagged me, which had set in motion my lightning response.

So Kim tracks down Donna, who tells her about Emily, and then Kim tells me, “You know her mother.” 

By that time the wheel is spinning out of control, but other than Kim, I still don't know the key players: Donna, who posted the ad, or Emily, who is driving around with my duck in her car.

Soon I receive a message from Brenda, whom I do know, telling me that Emily is her daughter and is on her way to Viroqua with my duck. Brenda asks for my phone number and I send it to her. Soon my phone rings.

“Is this Jane?”

“Yes, do you have my duck?” I’ve already named the duck Pema, sex unknown and sight unseen.

“Actually, I have two.”


“Are you going to tell me that baby duckling gave birth in the car?”


“By the way, I know your mother…,” and I launch into a tale, never having meet Emily, who is somewhere between Onalaska and Viroqua with Pema, who has miraculously multiplied.

“I was telling Sara, I named my dog Moses because he walks on water. Sara said that she herself was Jewish, but still happened to know it wasn’t Moses who walked on water. I was dumbfounded. The next day, I mentioned to my exercise class that my friend Sara tried to tell me it wasn’t Moses who walked on water—ha! But Brenda, who sat in the back row, called out, ‘She’s right’.” That was the same Brenda, mother of Emily, whom I don’t know, but who has my duckling(s) and to whom I’m chattering away.

I continue with the story even when Emily doesn’t respond—I can’t stop a story once it’s set in motion. “So I asked your mom, if it wasn’t Moses, then who walked on water? She gave me a cute thumbs-up and a smile, and said, ‘That would be Jesus, Jane.’ While the class cracked up, I replied, “Well, I’m not going to start calling my dog Jesus!”

Emily laughs and I have a new friend. Soon we meet at the Viroqua Food Co-op for the great duckling drop-off. Sure enough, there are two of them.

Driving home, winding down Highway 82 with Pema and Sushi in the front seat, I think back to that personal ad I answered all those years ago and what has followed since: donkeys, geese, ducks, goats, parakeets, cats, dogs, pigeons, and even a pig. 

Once upon a time my life was getting stagnant, but not anymore. Now there’s a whole lot in motion.