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Quacking Up


I’ve become a bit of a magnet for wildlife in distress. Last year I took baby birds that had been attacked by a cat to Tri-State Bird Rescue twice. I also delivered a baby squirrel who had fallen 15 feet and landed on its head to a wildlife rescue in Bear.

On a photo shoot for this month’s dining story, however, I participated in the best rescue yet.

In the parking lot of Harry’s Savoy Grill, I noticed a duck encouraging her babies up a curb. Each of three ducklings took a couple of hops before slipping through the grate of a storm drain. I peered into the drain to discover 11 frightened babies stranded below.

Tri-State directed me to call DelDOT, so I did, then sat down for what I thought would prove a very long wait. This was, of course, the much-maligned DelDOT. Assuming I’d wait at least two hours, I watched helplessly as Mama circled the drain and quacked frantically at her young. She then began quacking at me, as if to scold me for doing nothing.

Within half an hour, three DelDOT workers showed up. They lifted the grate, then one lay down to reach in and scoop the ducklings out—to no avail. Frightened by all the commotion, the babies had scurried into hiding underground. When I mentioned that Mama, who was pacing under a nearby car, had called continually to keep them close, the guys gathered around the hole and began quacking. It worked. One by one, each baby was lifted out and returned to his mother.

We surmised that Mama had been leading the babies to a creek beyond the broad, busy parking lot, and she clearly needed our help. So, slowly, we herded the little family past the cars as one crewman boosted the babies up the curbs. At one, he built a ramp of mulch. As our little parade marched toward the creek, I heard one worker ask another if he had eaten his salad yet. I then realized they were on lunch break.  

Watching Mama lead her flock, I was reminded that there are good people out there who will skip their lunch to come to the aid of a frazzled woman, a frantic duck and 11 helpless babies. Sometimes, they work for DelDOT.


Mark’s Day Book
  • Many thanks to Hillary Holland of the Brandywine River Museum for the invitation to Frolic Weymouth’s garden party at Big Bend before the annual antiques show preview party at the museum. (Whew.) There is something profound about the dichotomy of noshing on pigs in a blanket (delicious) at one of the most magnificent estates in the region. And how rare is it to have a gallery full of Andrew Wyeth originals all to yourself for an hour. It was a pleasure to speak with museum director Jim Duff. I have but one regret: Every time I tried to say hello to our host, Mr. Weymouth was preoccupied. My sincere thanks to you, Frolic. It was a spectacular, unforgettable evening in every way.
  • It was good to see a strong contingent of Delawareans at State of the Region meeting at the Philadelphia Convention Center, including a panelist from Air Liquide in Newark. All the best to Jeanne Mell in her new ventures.
  • The weather was perfect for the Taste of Coastal Delaware, one of the few sunny, warm and breezy days of the early summer. Highlights: barbecued ribs from the Fenwick Crab House, the delicious spinach-fruit salad from Matteo’s Salso Loco and crab cakes, crab cakes, crab cakes. My god, do I love crab cakes.
  • It was great fun to connect with Karen McGrath at the Rehoboth Art League and Fay Jacobs of Rehoboth Beach Main Street. Fay and crew earned the town a Great American Main Street Award from the National Trust Main Street Center—a first on the East Coast. Congratulations, Fay. More on that soon.

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