While running slowly around Lake of the Isles this morning I saw a duck – a mallard – swimming with two ducklings no bigger than my fist. That’s odd, I thought. Aren’t there usually more ducklings in a litter, group, gaggle? Most of my knowledge about ducks comes from children’s literature though so I kept running. Paying attention to my surroundings while I run or walk the dog helps me pass the time. I can think about the ducks instead of that voice in the back of my head screaming “why the fuck are you  still running?”

At about the two mile mark, I saw another duck swimming along the edge of the lake. This little brown speckled bird looked just like the one I had seen across the lake. Instead of two little fist-sized ducklings following her, a dozen little fuzzballs fell in line. Do ducks kidnap? Had this second duck taken in the first’s extra babies because she was an unfit mother? I kept running and wondered about the politics of duck foster-mothers.