Today, I celebrated Labor Day by doing one of my favorite things…feeding the ducks at our local duck pond. The pond, aka the Ol’ Fishin’ Hole (though I’m not sure if that’s the real name), is one of the childhood hot spots of the Hawkins family, along with the public library and “The Rock.” The Rock (not to be confused with Dwayne Johnson) is just that–a giant rock jutting out of the ground, probably invisible to everyone but my family. Being near one of the high spots in town, my siblings and I would walk a few blocks uphill with my dad to peer out into the distant country landscape. In seventh grade, I revered this setting so much that I wrote a descriptive paragraph about it which then got accepted into our middle school anthology. Such an accomplishment, but I’ll never forget that a friend at the time said it was overly descriptive, which–reading back on it now–it is.
On the way out to the pond today, we drove by the rock. It’s still there, but chiseled down by time, and the trees, which used to be so small, have grown up around it, blocking the view. But, thankfully, the pond hasn’t changed much. There’s a “new” dock and a ramp leading to the shore, and–more recently–a bathroom facility. None of the other changes are man-made. Trees have grown, and the decorative bridge leading through a patch of reeds is now overgrown with sticker patches, though it used to seem so fairy tale-like.
Other than that, the pond is the same as always–the same reeds and cattails, red-winged blackbirds and scissor-tailed flycatchers, and–best of all–the ducks. Most of the other families visiting the pond would mostly come for fishing. Not us, though. I’ve been fishing maybe twice in my life? (Not a typical Oklahoman in that respect). We just liked to walk around the pond once or twice, enjoy nature, and–if we had some stale bread–feed the ducks.
Since there’s not a lot to do in my hometown other than visit Wal-Mart and the thrift shop, feeding ducks at the pond is toward the top of the list when it comes to entertainment. Over the years, the number of ducks seems to have grown tremendously. Are they the same ducks? Probably not, but I like to think that they are. Some geese have also joined them. Today there were at least five geese, and they’re pretty intimidating creatures. Though I enjoy the way they fearlessly eat out of our hands, I’m ready to tuck tail and flee if they show any hint of being aggressive.
Today, having no work to go to because of the holiday, my brother and I took a bucket of bird seed out to the pond, where the ducks and geese were waiting. I think they must have been bored, hungry, or lonely, because as soon as we started throwing seed, every waterfowl in the place headed our direction. Here’s a view from the dock afterward:
And they even ate out of our hands! This is common for geese, but even the ducks were eager this time!
Having ducks quack and waddle around my feet is something I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of. Ducks are such comical creatures, which is why I count them among one of my favorite animals. But all of my favorite animals seem to have some quirky feature about them–turtles, sheep, llamas, sloths. I don’t mean to pick such strange animals as my favorites–I’m just drawn to them.
Just recently, I discovered a poem by Frederick William Harvey which perfectly captures the comical nature of ducks. The last section is my favorite:
“When God had finished the stars and whirl of coloured suns
He turned His mind from big things to fashion little ones;
Beautiful tiny things (like daisies) He made, and then
He made the comical ones in case the minds of men
Should stiffen and become
Dull, humourless and glum,
And so forgetful of their Maker be
As to take even themselves – quite seriously.
Caterpillars and cats are lively and excellent puns:
All God’s jokes are good – even the practical ones!
And as for the duck, 1 think God must have smiled a bit
Seeing those bright eyes blink on the day He fashioned it.
And he’s probably laughing still at the sound that came out of its bill!” (Harvey 1919).
Find the rest of the poem here and enjoy!
Harvey, Frederick William. 1919. “Ducks.” Poemhunter.com. Last accessed September 5. https://www.poemhunter.com/poem/ducks/.