This story does not have a happy ending, unless you’re a fan of eels.
As I tramped along the Kerikeri River today, I came across a family of ducks. Mom, dad, and seven little ducklings. Mom was herding her brood into the river for what I can only assume was their afternoon swimming lesson. Dad was on the river bank on guard against predators from land. The little ducklings were adorable as they stumbled and tumbled over the rocks to get into the water. The last little duckling fell down between two rocks and really struggled to get himself free.
Finally, after what felt like an eternity, the whole family was in the water with duckling #7 swimming his fuzzy butt off to catch up. Dad had circled back around to get his child back in line with his siblings. I stood on the riverbank cheering the little guy on! It was better than a Disney movie!
All of a sudden #7 was in trouble. And in the blink of an eye, #7 was pulled under the water. I could occasionally see quick flashes of brown and white duckling trying to come up. But in the end, #7 was gone forever. Ok, maybe this is more like the mom scene in Bambi.
A passing Kiwi tramper stopped to witness my trauma and confidently informed me that there are eels living in the rivers here and one of them just had baby duck for dinner. It’s been several hours since I witnessed this horrific tragedy and while I understand the whole circle of life (damn you Disney, now that song is stuck in my head), I’m not sure I could ever enjoy watching a helpless baby duck get eaten by an eel!
So naturally I’ve begun thinking about what is going to kill me in New Zealand. Since man is the apex predator here, and I am a foreigner, I’m convinced I’ll be killed crossing a road. Laugh if you will, but this Yankee Doodle learned to cross the street where people drive on the right hand side of the road! Every time I come to a road crossing, I look in thirty-two directions at once and still can’t seem to wrap my head around which direction the cars are supposed to be coming. And roundabouts?!? I’ve caught myself waiting for another pedestrian to go first.
Now my fear is that I’ll end up like little #7. Roadkill by an eel that looks suspiciously like a delivery truck.
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