I sort of promised you a story.
And here it is.
Once upon a time, we lived in Oklahoma. No, I am not making that up. We lived there for 51 weeks. And we loved everything, everything about it. Everything. (Except the job.) (And the weather.)
Oklahoma is a lovely, wonderful place. As long as you have air conditioning (check), a zoo pass (check) and a creek in your backyard (check). Oh, and friends with teenage kids so you can leave your small girls and go out to eat (check, again). Lots of eating in Oklahoma.
So this creek in our backyard was a source of constant adventure. It was a slow-moving, creeping sort of creek, just busy enough to make some noise, but not scary for the small children to explore. (I thought.) There was this huge, flat submerged stone that showed itself during a long, hot summer and became a perfect place to stand and discover wildlife. Which seemed like such a good idea.
But guess what. Go ahead. Guess.
We didn’t have to stand in the creek to discover wildlife. Wildlife occasionally came to us. In the form of ducks. In the spring, when the redbud trees reminded us of all the reasons to live in Oklahoma (see above), ducks began hanging out on our back porch. Six or seven of them. And we’d feed them leftover pancakes. To the point of training them. No kidding. The ducks got so used to our leftover pancakes showing up on the back porch that they’d come knocking if the cakes weren’t there. Really. They’d come right up to the back kitchen door and peck on the glass with their duckish beaks.
“Breakfast time, isn’t it?”
(Note: Ducks prefer pancakes to bagels. FYI.)
After breakfast, the ducks would get amorous. Oy. I know. Small children, welcome to the Circle of Life. 
Fast forward a few weeks, and only the green-headed boy ducks came for breakfast. What happened to the brown ones? the kids wanted to know. Oh, they’re nesting. Babies soon. Won’t that be fun?
Yes. Oh, yes.
Fast forward another couple of weeks. Babies. Oh, the cutest little yellow puffballs you’ve ever, ever seen. They breathed these little chirping sighs that would just make us insane with their cuteness. We’d sit beside the creek on our tri-leveled porch and watch them paddle by. The mamas and the daddies would take turns coming up to the door for breakfast. We delivered, these days. To all seven babies.
Wait. Six babies. And a few fewer adults.
No. Now five babies. And three adults.
Three babies? No adults? What’s going on here?
It really didn’t take that long for us to understand the Circle of Life playing out in our backyard. Some of those huge Oklahoma snakes were snacking on our babies. And possibly their parents. Vengeance was only a matter of time.
Husband, in a Herculean effort of Pet Rescue Bravery, borrowed a pool skimmer from the Gardening Neighbor. And we sat in wait for our remaining babies to float by.
Rather, make that Baby.
One lone baby.
Out came the skimmer. Into the creek went Husband. Into the skimmer went baby duckling. Sort of screaming, I have to admit. It was one of those moments when we have to tell a smaller creature, “this is for your own good — trust me” but we feel bad anyway.
The internet (yes, it was around even then) had told us that baby ducks like cracked corn, wheat, and oats. Um, okay. So I put some cornmeal, some oatmeal, and some whole wheat flour in a little pan. Then I put some creek water in another pan. Then I put both pans in a box. Then Husband put the baby duck inside, too. And we watched the baby duck whistle and peck and splash around in apparent relief. I can just see it from baby duck viewpoint: Two small human faces, peering over the edge of the box, two larger human faces, above the small ones. All smiling in a manic human manner. Stop looking at me, humans, and bring more cornmeal.
Everyone knows that a baby duck needs a name. So, Husband named our duck. Mabel Huntington. Do not ask me why. I cannot tell you. 
Everyone also knows that a baby duck needs a teddy bear. So, Husband bought Mabel a bear.
Wait. We didn’t know that? Well, the marketing department at PetCo saw Husband coming, then. There was a huge sign. Huge. It said, and I quote, “Birds Love To Snuggle!” Below which was a display of dozens of tiny teddy bears. Husband picked the cutest one, by far.
And brought it to Mabel.
Who adored that bear. And I am being so completely sincere. Even though I may have raised my eyebrows way up high in wonder that someone IN THE ADVERTISING PROFESSION could get snookered by an advertisement for something so unnecessary, he was right. Mabel snuggled up to the teddy and sacked out. With his/her fluffy little yellow head in the bear’s lap. Oh, heck. It was the cutest thing you’ve ever seen, duck-and-bearly speaking.
After a few days, we determined that, although we were pretty attached to the duck (and teddy bear) living in a box in our garage, there was probably a better way to raise this sweet thing. So we made some phone calls. To some of the nicest Oklahomans in the state. Finally, a wildlife rescue place agreed to meet Mabel. I drove her there, her box in the front seat of the Honda, kids safely belted into carseats in the back. The nice wildlife people told me that they’d be happy to do any kind of rehabilitation that Mabel might need and then help him/her to find his/her freedom. That many of the rehabbed ducks would choose to make a permanent home in the pond on the premises. I explained that she wasn’t hurt, exactly, just in mortal danger from the snakes and turtles that were making a habit of snacking on baby ducks in our backyard. Then I explained about the teddy bear.
Silence. Lots of it.
Then a slow nod. Riiiiight, lady. The duck loves the bear. Riiiiiiiiiiiiiight.
I walked back to the car, watching over my shoulder as the brown-clad wildlife rescue worker hitched box over hip and walked away, toward Mabel’s future.
(Dramatic Pause Here)
After a few weeks, we took the Kids to the “museum” on the property of the wildlife rescue people. It smelled of taxidermy and dust. Many stuffed snakes. And live ones. But what I most remember was the possum. Oh, holy mercy. It was placed on top of a glass snake cage (which I’m sure has some manner of technical name ending in -arium, but I don’t care) so that it was, as I turned around, face to face with me. The possum reminded me of all the reasons I won’t ever have a possum for a pet. That, my friends, is a frightening creature. It was white with pink beady glass eyes, which, on its own is scary enough. Because it looked like a hugely overgrown lab rat. But the teeth. Oh, the teeth. There were a million of them. A million, at least. Sharp ones. Its mouth was open, displaying all the fang-ed wonder. I suppressed both the cries and the gag reflex and shepherded my children out of the room.
We found a brown-clad rescue worker, who laughed when we mentioned Mabel the Duck.
“I remember you,” he said.
(Strangely for me, I couldn’t say the same.)
“Folks, when you brought the duck here that day, I wondered if you were crazy, what with you fixin’ to leave the duck with a toy.” (People in Oklahoma love the word “fixin'” — trust me on this one.) “But you were right. That duck still sleeps with the teddy bear snuggled up right next to her.” (She was a her. Apparently.)
We asked to see Mabel. He brought her out. She was at least twice the size of the teddy bear now, and brown and awkward and lumpy.
Gorgeous, I mean.
The Kids couldn’t believe this was the same duck. Then the worker showed us the bed. With the teddy bear inside. The bear that Husband had known, KNOWN would make the duck safe and happy. This little bear was loved up. Nips out of his ears, covered in… something aromatic, matted and completely adored. For a guy who doesn’t like animals, my Husband sure knows how to take care of an accidental pet.
 Did you know that snakes live in Oklahoma? They do. And pretty much every single poisonous snake in the northern hemisphere wants to live in Oklahoma. They’ve never, ever read “Grapes of Wrath” apparently.
 I may have been heard to open the door and hiss at those amorous ducks, “Hey, there are little kids around here. Take it under the bleachers, why don’t you?”
 Telling it this way, it sounds a lot less… wet than I remember it.
 Just kidding. Of course I can tell you. Mabel Huntington lives upstairs from Mr. Kreuger and complains that her pipes don’t bring her heat, or water, or something. Mr. Kreuger is convinced that she’s lying for attention. We (heart) Jimmy Stewart.