What inspires you?
I’m inspired by the underdog. It’s key to my writing and key to who I am as a person. I can’t bear to see someone bullied, exiled, or treated unfairly, especially when circumstances are out of their hands. I’m the lover of the Charlie Brown Christmas Tree, the idea of “Potential,” and people in need. But my ultra soft spot is for animals.
Have you ever tried to put a baby bird back into its nest? Have you ever brought home a stray dog or cat or crawdad? Have you saved a horse from the slaughter-house?
If you can answer yes to all of these questions like me, then you certainly have a soft spot for the underdog. While pondering why I can’t bear to see a worm squiggling on the dry sidewalk, I realized my father is my inspiration. With his kind heart in the lead one cool winter day at a local Park, and at the age of eight, I saved my first life.
Budabeep was a mallard duck who lived a full life on our farm. But he didn’t start out so lucky.
The pine needle nest at the edge of the mossy lake held two cold duck eggs the size of my child-sized hand. Where the mother was, I’d never find out, but my father was convinced that she wouldn’t be coming back. And most likely the eggs would fall prey to raccoons or coyotes.
Appalled, I smuggled the eggs into my pocket. Once at home, my father incubated the eggs with a heat lamp, a moist towel, and a thermometer. Every day I helped rotate the eggs. About a week into the process, my father introduced me to candling the egg. Candling involves a dark room while shining a light through the egg. Inside, we saw a tiny heartbeat the size of a grain of rice racing with life and a web of blood.
Every couple of days we would check the development of the embryo in this way. The duckling grew and moved inside the egg! I watched for the first time how saving the eggs had saved two lives. Then one day while still unhatched, the ducklings inside began to peep! The more I talked to the eggs, the louder the peeping grew. A day later the two ducklings had broken a hole in their shells. One duckling’s dark green beak peeked through the shell.
The next day both ducklings hatched, though, sadly, only one survived.
I held the little brown and yellow fur ball in my hands against the warmth of my chest, as children often carry things that are precious. Ducklings imprint on the first person they see and considered me its mother. As he nestled and slept on my chest, he made a little sound “Budabeep” and that became his name.
Budabeep swam in the bathtub, diving underwater and zooming around. Once he got older, he went outside and swam in a concrete pool my father and grandfather built for him. Of course my father couldn’t stand the fact that Budabeep was alone, so he purchased a couple of “friends” from the feed store.
I still remember calling for him “duck-a-duck-a-duck-a.” He’d come flying to retrieve a handful of dry cat food, worms, or other treats.
This is just one story of so many animal rescue stories I plan on sharing in the future. Who or what has molded you? Are you inspired by similar experiences? Are you an animal lover? Have you ever rescued something and then set it free? Have you ever made a difference in an underdog’s life? Please share.