Away from the madd(en)ing crowd …


Image and copyright by Rodney Campbell:

The maddening crowd this time of year is not always defined by the shoppers at the mall.  Today, it was a cluster of mallards that gathered mid-morning in the Ecorse Creek at Council Point Park.

I was happy to discover that the freezing fog, which put a kibosh on Saturday’s walk, had dissipated by mid-morning and I could still go for a Sunday stroll.

Since it was clear and dry, I decided to head to the Park, but not before I gathered a few goodies for my furry and feathered friends first.

In my fridge were a few bagels and English muffins  that were so stale they could choke a horse.  I crumbled up the muffins for the ducks and cut up the two bagels and smeared peanut butter on them as a treat for the squirrels.

So .. off I went, bearing gifts in this season of giving.

Soon I was at my favorite nature nook once again.  The Park was fairly quiet as I started on the trail.  I searched the trees for squirrels so I could entice them down for their treats which I planned to line up along one of the Park benches.  I saw no squirrels, so I wiggled the bag of crumbled-up muffins and made a clicking noise with my tongue.  Sure enough, one small squirrel (with good hearing) came scurrying from out of nowhere, eventually arriving near my feet to investigate what I was offering.  I carefully set out some of the little “sammiches” on the bench and watched his reaction.  He climbed up the bench and ambled over along the seat to see what I had put there, sniffed the snack appreciably, then gobbled them down one by one.  Soon he looked over expectantly for more.  “How about your buddies?” I asked, and quickly realized that was a dumb question since he bounded over closer to my foot and gazed at the bag in my hand.  Alas, he had my heart, so I went back to the bench and gave him the balance of the treats.

I left him munching contentedly, then resumed my walk.  On the opposite side of the perimeter path, I could hear water splashing and ducks quacking.   Most of the bushes and trees are now bare, so I didn’t need to climb down the grassy embankment to scope out the situation.  There were about 20 mallard ducks, both male and female, clustered together in the middle of the Ecorse Creek.  Some were diving for food and I watched the occasional male take flight and exit the water quickly, then land a few yards away with a skid and a splash.  I believe the whole gang had something to say as the quacking was quite loud.  I walked closer to the edge and opened my bag to get the English muffin crumbles for them.  I tossed out the contents of the bag, then watched every one of them scramble to be first to nibble on those yeasty treats that were floating on the water.

Suddenly, I saw one lone mallard male, swimming along quietly in the opposite direction.  The others did not pay any attention to him.  That got me wondering – was he bored by their antics?  Did they bully  him?  Who ruffled his feathers?  Maybe he just wanted to get away from the maddening crowd.  I watched him for the longest time as he glided along the surface of the calm water, then he disappeared from my sight when he ducked into a little alcove.  The rest of the crowd, seemingly oblivious to his absence, just kept carrying on.

I went back to the trail, finished that loop and started a second loop.  My squirrel pal spied me and sought me out, but this round I had nothing for him.  He made me smile as he still had a few smears of peanut butter clinging to the fur around his mouth.  I glanced over to the Creek and the ducks were still there; their fracas was finished and now they were contently paddling along in the murky water, and all was right in their world.

My day was alright too  – I felt peaceful, infused by nature and happy to have added five more miles to my goal on this December day.

I know you’ll appreciate this beautiful mallard’s image captured by photographer Rodney Campbell that accompanies this post.  Rodney has entitled the photo “Splish Splash”.

About Linda Schaub

This is my first blog and I enjoy writing each and every post immensely. I started a walking regimen in 2011 and decided to create a blog as a means of memorializing the people, places and things I see on my daily walks. I have always enjoyed people watching, and so my blog is peppered with folks I meet, or reflections of characters I have known through the years. Often something piques my interest, or evokes a pleasant memory from my memory bank, so this becomes a “slice o’ life” blog post that day. I respect and appreciate nature and my interaction with Mother Nature’s gifts is also a common theme. Sometimes the most-ordinary items become fodder for points to ponder over and touch upon. My career has been in the legal field and I have been a legal secretary for four decades, primarily working in downtown Detroit, and now working from my home. I graduated from Wayne State University with a degree in print journalism in 1978, though I’ve never worked in that field. I like to think this blog is the writer in me finally emerging!! Walking and writing have met and shaken hands and the creative juices are flowing once again in Walkin’, Writin’, Wit & Whimsy – hope you think so too. - Linda Schaub
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4 Responses to Away from the madd(en)ing crowd …

  1. Marge Aubin says:

    I wonder why the mallad decided to go on his own without even going over for a nibble. It seemed like you had a nice day. I hope the weather continues so you can get your miles in. I can picture the squirrel with the peanut butter.


  2. lindasschaub says:

    Well, he was already headed in the opposite direction as I got there before I tossed out the bread. It was strange – like he was disinterested. I hope the weather stays well too Marge. Funny, my intent on day one of the new year was just to beat last year’s mileage, even by a few miles … that was to get to 500 miles. I never would have thought I’d be near 700. There was black ice this morning, but just on the roads, not the sidewalks and will be the same for tomorrow, then that’s it for the week. As to the squirrel, it was funny … I didn’t take out the camera because sometimes it spooks the squirrels if I make a movement. Years ago when my mom and I subscribed to “Birds & Blooms” magazine, they said to give the backyard critters a treat and string popcorn and cranberries for the birds and drape it along bushes or the top of a fence where they could nibble on it. For squirrels, they said to take Ritz crackers or cut up bites of bread or bagel and put chunky peanut butter on them and leave them on bushes where they could see it in the snow. So we popped up some plain popcorn, got a couple of packages of fresh cranberries and strung them on carpet thread. I took it out and wove it through the bushes by our fence line. We bought cheap crunchy peanut butter and slathered it onto rustic-style bread. My mom and I stood to watch at the window … the birds never came near and in the Spring I had to unthread the garland from the bushes. The squirrel (probably Sammy), licked the peanut butter off each piece of bread and threw the bread into the garden. So I had more work to do and we never did it again. This squirrel ate every bite – maybe they like bagels better than bread?


  3. ann marie stevens says:

    Miss Linda……….I’m still being amused by that fat little squirrel with peanut butter on his furry mouth……………………………


    • lindasschaub says:

      Ann Marie – years and years ago, my mom and I subscribed to a magazine called “Birds and Blooms”. They said to entice critters to the yard to make delightful treats for them. They said to string popcorn and cranberries on thick thread (like button and carpet thread) and lace it through and on top of bushes and shrubs. They said to take fruit bread or bagels and smear peanut butter on it for the squirrels. We had some rustic-style multi-grain bread and so we took about six or so pieces and my mom spread chunky peanut butter on them. We laid the pieces of bread on different low shrubs. We always fed the birds and squirrels so had no doubt that they would be by. Then we stood at the window to watch. The squirrel went right over to the first piece of bread, licked the peanut butter off, then cast the bread aside. He did this with each successive piece of bread! I had to go out the next day and pick up all the pieces he threw aside. In the Spring, I had to unwind the popcorn and cranberry treat from the bushes, still untouched. So much for that magazine – it was the last time I did that.


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