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Opinion >  Column

The Slice: Motherhood isn’t all it’s quacked up to be

So is that famous downtown Spokane duck an unfit mother?

And is it really a great idea for people to help her turn out a new generation of birds who, if they imitate their mom, might just lead lives marked by one bad decision after another?

Are the well-intentioned humans involved in this messing with natural selection?

All of that is open to debate.

(If you are not up to speed on this ongoing saga, go to www.spokesman.com and click on the Duckcam link. It’s all there.)

Perhaps it is not a certainty that this is the same duck that became famous through e-mail last spring. Maybe it is one of her daughters, though it requires a bit of Disneyesque denial to believe last year’s offspring didn’t all wind up, well, no need to go into that. It might suffice to recall what the supercharged Spokane River and the falls were like last spring.

The phrase “fowl family-friendly” isn’t what comes to mind.

Of course, even if last year’s ducklings met an unhappy end thanks to a sometimes unforgiving Mother Nature, nobody doubts that’s a better fate than the horrors likely to have befallen them downtown without the assistance of those bank employees.

Those big-hearted people didn’t create the nest site problem. They just tried to help a young, urban mother who hadn’t planned very well.

And what about that mother duck? Is she nuts? Is the very idea of her passing along her genes bad news for the animal kingdom?

Perhaps it’s not for us to say.

Sometimes it can be a mistake to underestimate a parent. There are, after all, no shortage of stories about seemingly out-of-their-depth moms who somehow managed to do what was necessary to take care of their families. Against all odds.

The power of love is an awesome thing. Maybe that duck has some sort of plan none of us could understand.

Perhaps she was counting all along on those bank employees helping her get her brood to the river. There’s reason to be skeptical about that. But who really knows what’s going on in that birdbrain of hers?

The one thing we can be sure of is that no one cares about her babies more than she does. She’s their mother.

No job description on earth comes with a clearer mission statement.

So good luck, girl. Here’s hoping fortune and those Sterling Savings folks continue to watch over you.

•Today’s Slice question: What have been your experiences when it comes to helping wildlife overcome seemingly bad decisions?

Write The Slice at P.O. Box 2160, Spokane, WA 99210; call (509) 459-5470; fax (509) 459-5098; e-mail pault@spokesman.com. For previous Slice columns, see www.spokesman.com/ columnists. In the case of his family’s recently deceased goldfish, Toni Ratzlaff’s 7-year-old nephew pronounced the probable cause of death to be “wine flu.”

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