Marissa Maciel’s previous work for The Toast can be found here.
Dear Miss Brown Shoes,
Hello! You were so kind to stop by and greet us the other day, and our leadership committee felt that we should contact you formally to share our story with you.
We have spent many years reaching out to people we believe will be sympathetic to our plea. As someone who frequents the Bonny Lake Park, and as an animal lover, we know you can help us.
We are a group of migrant water fowl; people call us White Campbell ducks. Our patriarch, Reginald, comes from a long line of duck royalty and is a descendant of the famous Jemima Puddleduck on his mother’s side of the family. Reginald has been leading us over the years to potentially great living sites but, alas, we seem to alway strike out. Ponds, golf courses, water parks, even car washes with water features, lead us no closer to a food source.
Dear Miss, would you please find it in your kind heart to bring food to our flock, at least once a week? Perhaps on a Sunday before you go to church? Or Wednesday morning, when you take your dog for a walk nearby?
Bread, bagels, birdseed, even expired cereal would be great. Though I will ask out of propriety to avoid Stove Top Stuffing mix, as it boasts a “chicken” flavor and as you can guess that wouldn’t suit us well. Reginald would have an apoplectic fit. Then again, a real treat would be some microwaved popcorn, but we don’t look askew at cracked kernels either.
What we are asking may seem simple, but there are some complicating factors. We are sometimes joined by other roving families – American Coots, Canada Geese, Mallards – who are more aggressive at finding food, so please feel free to shoo them away if they approach you. Also, the children at the park can be awfully agitating, and Reginald is getting on in years, so anything you could do to stop the children from chasing us away from the food would be appreciated.
And Miss, just to be clear: you might see other people feeding us, sometimes several groups a day, but don’t think that we are satisfied. You alone will know what foods we best need, so please visit us as much as you can. We are putting our trust in you. If you are approached by someone who works for the park and they ask you to stop feeding us, we’ve found it best to just play along with them until they leave.
If for some reason you can’t make it to the park, well, please know we feel a loss without you there. Please return as soon as possible. Or send someone in your place. Or maybe just have one of those grocery store delivery people come and rip open a bag of potato chips for us; there’d be no harm in that.
Thank you again for taking up our cause. We’ll be nesting soon, and our babies will need much care and feeding. As you know, this world can be so hard for wild animals, especially young ones left to live out their days in the weather, exposed to the elements. Don’t forget about us.
The Starving Ducks at the Pond
Marissa Maciel is a writer and illustrator.