I'm riding home and I hear ducks. This always makes me happy, but in spring it is particularly pleasant because I know that where there are ducks, there are usually ducklings. This time I was not disappointed. There they were - all thirteen of them! They were making quite a racket, which is understandable for such a large brood, but it seemed that the cacophony was excessive in this case. Upon closer inspection, I discovered the reason: one of their brothers had jumped off the curb and was now stranded in the gutter.
Being so little, the curb was just high enough that the little guy couldn't see over the top, so had no idea where his family was. He would run up and down the gutter, peeping desperately. Mom would answer, and then he would try to hop up. While he was quiet, mom started to walk away like she had forgotten about him (which is understandable with so many little peepers). I stopped and watched what followed, hoping I wasn't going to watch the tragic unfolding of abandonment.
He couldn't quite jump high enough, so after a few attempts, he would go back to frantic pacing/peeping, becoming more and more agitated as mom started to walk away. She would answer him, and he's again try to jump up. They went through a few more cycles of peep, quack, jump. Just as I was pulling out a book from my backpack to make a ramp, the adrenaline combined with the knowledge from failed attempts and he was finally able to hop the curb. Needless to say, he darted to mom and stayed pretty close after that.