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Death by Duck: The Photograph that Almost Killed Me

On April 5, 2015, Polly and I took a short road trip south that landed us in Delphos, Ohio. Like many of our day trips, we had no planned destination. We just head north, south, east, or west and see where it takes us. Our children have plenty of stories they could tell about Dad’s famous road trips. When the children were young, we rarely had much money, so piling into the car and going somewhere, anywhere was a cheap form of entertainment. While we have the money to take “real” trips, we still like unplanned trips that take us to places we’ve never been.

In back of the Delphos Herald building there is a canal and lock dating back to the days of the Miami and Erie Canal. As I shared before, getting to the canal was a challenge for me, but I carefully made my way down to the canal, snapping photographs as I walked. (waddled would be a better word) Once I had my photo fix, it was time to head back to the car. I thought, I should go back the way I came. Instead, Polly came near the concrete abutment and I thought, with her help, I could hop up. Yeah…the hop turned into a nasty fall, a fall that left me with a nasty gash on my leg and numerous other contusions. Polly landed on her knees and was quite sore for several days. A week or so later, the gash became infected. Since I am diabetic, any wound like this can be deadly. Fortunately, the doctor prescribed me an antibiotic and it killed off the infection.

My decision to hop up instead of walk back was foolish. Had I fallen backwards instead of forward, I would have tumbled down the abutment into the canal. I have no doubt that the fall likely would have killed me. This was a reminder to me that I am not physically fit and I am not twenty-five  anymore. As I am writing this, a humorous thought comes to my mind. Polly, how did your husband die? He was killed by a duck.

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    The duck pictures are really great, though they’d be even better if you could have gotten them without injury!

    While I was taking geology classes a few years ago, my knees were gradually giving out, and I took to making field hikes with a walking-stick. I really needed it on steep banks. On one bank, the adjustable-length walking-stick collapsed, and so did I. Fortunately I wasn’t really injured, but the cranky knees raised holy hell for the rest of the trip, and it was all I could do not to let on. (“Really, why is this fat, old, crippled woman studying geology? Damn, she’s slowing us down!” — nobody ever said it, but I’m sure many of my fellow students thought it.)

    tl;dr — all it takes is one misstep to ruin your day/week/month/life. I totally understand.

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    Also, I grabbed the high-res duck pics. I do bead embroidery as a hobby. There’s a duck portrait in beads in my future, I think.

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    Love your pictures, Bruce. Keep traveling! And thank Polly for us, too.

    Your experience reminded me of two movies-“Mame,” where she and her beloved husband are seeing the world, and he’s always taking her picture at the exotic sites. Unfortunately, he falls off a mountain while photographing her.

    Then there’s “Rear Window,” where he gets a great action shot for his magazine at a car race-but breaks his leg while doing so. He then starts watching all his many apartment neighbors out of his window while recuperating in a wheelchair (and notices the jewelry salesmen’s invalid wife has disappeared.) Hey, you could be L.B. Jeffries, and Polly could do Grace Kelly’s part!

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    I think it is wonderful that you are inspired to capture the natural world like this, Gerencser, but it concerns me that you hurt yourself doing it! How will we keep track of church signs and other matters if you put yourself at risk! Please take care on ledges and a precipice that seems to invite you for ‘creative’ reasons. Get ducky indeed, oh yes! but watch your noggin’s and your nether regions. I have found that as I grow older the ground seems to have become more aggressive, fundamentally hard and unforgiving. When I fall I hit bottom and do not bounce even a little as I am sure I used to do. Best buy a wee drone with a GoPro for the daredevil stuff…

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Bruce Gerencser