In New Mexico, there’s a legend of La Llorona, the ghost of a woman weeping at water’s edge for her lost children. The tale is told differently if you are in Santa Fe on the Santa Fe River or on the Rio Grande or in other parts of the state, but the basic story is the same: a woman drowned herself because of her dead children and haunts the river’s edge every night crying for them.
Here in Albuquerque, we have our own true story of La Llorona in the form of an environmental murder at the University’s duck pond, complete with eyewitnesses.
In June, sitting quietly on a stone at the Duck Pond, I witnessed a University employee picking up trash with a long metal “grabber” about four feet long. By the pond, she was reaching under a wisteria bush with the grabber, pulling white stuff out and throwing it into the pond.
After several movements of doing this, she used her grabber to pull a white duck with brown trim out of the bush. The duck flew at her, waving its wings and squawking. She used her tool to poke and beat the duck. She jabbed it fiercely in the belly and chest and beat it over the head and shoulders — hard! The duck eventually fled into the water.
She finished pulling round white objects out of the bush and throwing them into the water. Then she started smacking the white things in the water with the grabber.
By now I was on my feet, heading over to her as horror flooded over me. I realized that the “white things” were duck eggs that she was killing and that the duck had been defending its nest and babies. Yes, I confronted her and asked her why she had done it. I was told that it was University policy because “they were messy.”
The male duck died in about a week from injuries sustained in the beating. The female duck, every day since, stands on the edge of the pond, crying for her mate and her babies, the La Llorona of the University duck pond, a true urban tale of environmental callousness in this age of insanity, an age in which the policy at the officially named duck pond is to kill the ducks and their babies.
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