Sharing the love at the holidays, or any day, is what life is all about, whether the objection of your intentions is human, furry … or in this case, feathered.
I didn’t get a walk in today because it was rainy – basically, it was weather for ducks. So, instead of venturing outside, I hunkered down in the house and did the Christmas cards, a chore I usually tackle over Thanksgiving. I just kept putting it off. I finished the cards up and had them in a plastic bag waiting in the mailbox for when Jenny, our mail carrier arrived.
When I opened the front door, I remembered Grady, the gray squirrel, might be hanging around, hoping to catch sight of me, (and if not me, a few peanuts anyway). I looked for Grady, but I did not find him. In good faith, I put several peanuts on the front porch and scattered more in front of the house. When I looked outside many hours later to ensure the mail carrier picked up the cards, those peanuts were all gone. Yay Grady – you’ve got our routine down pat!
So, back to weather for ducks … and the general topic of ducks. I’ve teased you with the promise of a few tales from last weekend, by mentioning some of the nice people I met in my marathon walking-and-picture-taking sessions at five different parks. This little tale is about a couple of kindred souls who were feeding the ducks at Elizabeth Park.
I spent about five hours at Lake Erie Metropark on Saturday morning. When I arrived, the grass was covered in frost and it sure was cold. Over the course of the morning and early afternoon, the sun came out and melted those crystallized grass blades, and, since I was layered up and the sun was shining, it actually became rather pleasant.
After Lake Erie Metropark, I decided to head over to Elizabeth Park, which is just six miles away. I drove over the vehicle bridge and was about to head to my usual parking spot, when I spied a group of ducks clamoring around a man and woman. I quickly found a parking space so I could watch what appeared to be a feathered friend feeding frenzy. I parked the car and hurried over to watch. What I saw made my heart melt.
The bigger ducks, the white Pekins, and also the Mallard Hybrids, because of their size, had the advantage and were nuzzling the woman’s knees and she was petting them, while her companion was busy tossing out food. I got closer and told the couple that just watching the scene made me smile, so I asked if they would mind if I took a few pictures? “No problem – enjoy!” was their smiling answer. So I settled in, camera in hand, to watch the action.
The woman and I struck up a conversation while the man was busy doling out dried corn to the ducks. They lunged to get it, and pretty soon there were probably sixty ducks, of all different sizes, heads bent to the grass, enjoying their treat. They continued to circle the couple, pressed up against their legs, and enjoying the friendly pats on their backs or the top of their heads. Little quacks of satisfaction were being emitted and their feathery butts were wiggling back and forth, as they tried to squeeze in between their brethren to access either the precious corn wedged between the grass blades on the hill, or perhaps for a soft stroke by a human hand.
Four buckets of corn having been tossed out and the van door closed up tight, the man joined our conversation. I sure wish I had gotten their names as we had the nicest visit. While the ducks were eating up the corn, they told me that they made a daily trip to Elizabeth Park, right at this spot. The ducks know their van and when they see them pull up, they all run up the grassy hill to meet the couple on the sidewalk. That made me smile. They told me as soon as the ducks finish their corn, they will turn around and waddle back to the water’s edge, where they’ll plop into the water, or perhaps sit along the shoreline and preen.
Of course I told them about Parker and his friends and we compared notes of interacting with our feathery and furry friends and the pleasure we each got in doing so. The man laughed and said that they keep their supply of corn in the back of the van and have thought of building a ramp for the ducks to just go up the ramp so they could access their treats. The pair and I continued visiting, while one by one, the corn having been eaten, the ducks waddled back down the hill, just as the woman had predicted they would.
We stood talking a little bit longer and the ducks saw their benefactors lingering, so they turned around and started back up the hill again! The woman bent down to talk to them and said “were you late to the party, or are you coming back for seconds?” They wiggled their bodies in anticipation, much like your dog would do when it saw you, or if you held out a treat in your hands. It did not matter that they had enjoyed one treat already – they were game for a second helping! So, I laughingly apologized for making them linger and having to feed those ducks a second time, (although I knew in my heart that it was no hardship for them to do so). The woman waved her hand in a dismissive motion, saying “oh, why not – let’s give them some more corn” and the man returned to the van and came back with heaping buckets full of corn which he tossed out in every direction.
I am disappointed that my photos were not stellar as I recorded this labor of love … it was late in the day and I never took into consideration the angle of the sun and the shadows, as I usually take my photos much earlier in the day. But the images are recorded in my mind to play back when I want a smile – I hope your mouth will turn upward as well when you read this post.