Wednesday, April 1, 2009

A Duck Tale

On my commute home each evening I generally have to wait for the light at Kellogg, which is a fairly long wait. I sit in line with the other southbound travelers on Woodlawn, running though my list of things to do when I get home; calls to make, dinner, chores to accomplish. However, every now and again waiting at that light provides an inspiring bit of amusement. But I have to tell about the history of the intersection first.

On the right side of Woodlawn sits a small city within a city, called Eastborough. It is a high income neighborhood that has its own police force, street signs and such. And for many years, the city has boasted a pond that hosts lots of ducks. In the winter when it froze you could go by and see people ice skating and I would always enjoy the many brightly colored Christmas displays around the neighborhood and pond. Now there is a large and high ornamental brick fence around that corner which blocks the view of the pond. It really is a shame, but that’s another story!

The Eastborough human residents share that pond with ducks. There are lots of ducks, of varying kinds, of which I am ignorant of names. Every kind from the ones with the beautiful teal colored heads to plain brown ones, white ducks, big ones, little ones, the collection of them is fascinating. Sometimes, especially in the winter months you see geese there as well.

I could always tell that the ducks thought that pond was actually their own. As a child I would watch as the ducks fussed when people wandered around the pond, unless they were bringing offerings for the feathered inhabitants. Sometimes my mom would take me out there and I would toss handfuls of bread pieces out to the ducks and laugh delightfully as they swarmed it, always squawking for more.

As an adult, those ducks still fascinate me, but for another reason. Every now and then they will cross the street. There could be anywhere from 5 to so many I have lost count, but at least 30 or more. They don’t really seem to have any special order, as far as kinds of ducks, but the leader will always be an adult duck.

They travel mostly single-file, but sometimes 2 or more side-by-side. They will be a few adults followed by some smaller ducks and then more adults; regardless of how many there are it is always the same. They cross slowly, giving the little ones time to stay close to the adults as they make the journey to somewhere away from their pond.

Are they going to feed I wonder, or what? Are they aware of the traffic that stops for them, even when the light turns green and we wait? They are ducks; why aren’t they flying I wonder?

To the immense credit to the human watchers, I have never heard anyone honk their horn in impatience. We all just seem to sit and watch patiently as our feathered parade waddles past, seemingly unaware of our presence. For some reason it often brings tears to my eyes, that little winding procession that is crossing a usually harried intersection in rush hour. Finally, the last duck hops up on the opposite curb and they continue on their journey. I smile and wish them well and decide I can’t wait to see them again.

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