Sunday, July 31, 2005

People come and go from the little park down by the water, walking down the steps to take in the view and then, unsure of what to do next, turning around and sheepishly leaving. I had been there for a while, yesterday, propped up against the cement wall and balancing sideways on the wooden steps, my dress adjusted primly around my knees. In the water floated a set of three geese and five ducks, all honking and quacking and occasionally chasing each other. I wasn't sure if what I was seeing was a game of waterfowl tag or a grumpy bunch of birds, but as long as they stayed in the water I was content to watch them.

A man and his dog sat down a little distance from me, and the man pulled a beer, a carton of raspberries, and a sandwich out of the plastic bag next to him. We touched glances and nodded, content to leave each other alone.

While we sat there, he with his dinner and I with my book, a little boy showed up with two women and half a loaf of bread to feed to the geese. He was small, maybe three or four, and unable to manage throwing the bread out to where the geese were. The geese, suspicious of the boy, wouldn't come any closer. In the water between them, there floated a line of soggy bread.

Off to the side, suddenly, the ducks took flight, answering some secret duck call. The man and I exchanged glances again and shrugged, not sure what to think about the sudden departure of the ducks.

Hours later, walking home, I'll try to explain this story to my companion. While using elaborate gestures to try and convey exactly what happened I'll stumble on the sidewalk and lose my footing, saved from a full tumble by a steadying hand on my arm.

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