I walk home from work nearly every day. I've taken to finding longer and more interesting routes home for days like today when the weather is good. One of these routes goes past the duck pond just off of 16th Ave.
I picked up some birdseed and some Murchies tea (this is completely my Uncle Brian's fault!) on my way to the pond today. Technically, I think there are two ponds, or one large pond with a covered connector between the two parts, but everyone in the area just refers to the small park as "The Duck Pond." I fed the ducks at the first pond by scattering some seed, then walked on to my main target - the second pond. I have a routine here. I scatter some seed as I approach the pond. This brings the ducks a-waddling and I keep walking down to the water where my little feathered friend is waiting.
You see, there is one duck there that has a damaged leg. I'm not entirely sure what's wrong with it, she seems to be fine in the water, but she has trouble walking, so she usually misses out on the good food when people feed the ducks and geese. Sensing her weakness, the other birds sometimes pick on her and push by her to get to the food. I suppose I have a soft spot for the underdog, because every few days for the past two months or so I've been stopping by the pond and feeding her. I scatter food for the other ducks (and geese if they're there) to draw them away from her, then I feed her by hand. She seems able to get more food if I hold it up for her than when I put it on the ground in front of her, so I give her handful after handful of seed, scattering a bit whenever the other birds get too close. Sometimes other ducks, or worse the geese, will try to get in on the hand-feeding or sneak the food that piles up in front of her, but unless she reacts with nonchalance, I tend to shoo them away to make sure she gets a good meal.
|My duck is pictured here in|
the midst of some geese before
we developed our routine.
Have you ever had a goose hiss at you? I tend to hiss right back, and that seems to confuse them. They really don't seem to know what to do when the human they were trying to intimidate starts acting like a goose and hissing back. :)
Today I fed my feathered friend and her relatives, then picked a few blackberries by the pond before continuing on past the local high school and into the South Surrey Athletic Park. While passing the baseball diamond and running track, I braved another patch of blackberries only to find that one of the brambles took offence to my stealing its fruit. My french braid got caught in the thorns and I had to rely on the kindness of a good Samaritan who managed to disentangle my hair so that I could make my escape. After thanking her profusely, I refused to admit defeat, so I kept picking the berries in that patch for a few more minutes, but was careful not to get ensnared again.
As I meandered along the Hearts In Motion trail by the park I stopped here and there to pick some huckleberries and little wild blackberries along the way. During one of my stops an older Asian gentleman was walking the other way along the path. He is one of the many people I see on my walks home each day, most of whom exchange a polite nod and a smile as we cross paths. He saw my bag full of berries and my juice-stained hands and asked in heavily accented English: "are they available?" It was clear that this was not his primary language, and it took me a minute to decipher his gestures and words, but I told him that yes, anyone could pick them. I then showed him which bushes had huckleberries and blackberries, handed him a couple, assured him with words and gestures that they were good to eat, and told him to stay away from the black round berries which were not. He was amazed that anyone could pick and eat the berries. After trying the fruit and beaming with joy, he had me teach him how to say "huckleberry" and a moment after he resumed his walk, he was on his cell phone chattering in his own language. The only word I could decipher from his conversation was "huckleberry." I could be wrong, but I'd like to think that he was telling his wife of his new discovery and the nice young lady who drew his attention to the delicacies he'd unknowingly been walking past every day.