I'm not sure how to begin. I received a notification from a helpful reader. It read: Why are you obsessed with ducks? I love your writing except when you go on and on about ducks.
Point taken. So, I come to Towl Park today and I'm so very sorry, reader....but there are more DUCKS. I DID refrain and not take photos, if that helps. Instead, I took a playful photo of the playground.
I am enthralled by those mallards, though, and especially the sparkled neon green band around their throats. I wonder why this seems to be the way it is with all fowl and birds. The males are so gorgeous. Male mallard ducks have heads and necks that are so beautifully textured that my fingers ache to stroke them. The female mallards tend towards dowdy brownity. Like Kit Harington standing next to Rosie O'Donnell. Your eyes just wander towards...him.
It is the same with cardinals, bluejays and most birds. The male is bright and showy. The female is plain and no-fuss. A friend of mine, an ornithologist, once told me that there is a logical reason behind this. In the wild, the male is the protector of the female and the young. It is imperative that the female be able to hide and shield the baby birds, therefore she must be able to merge well and not stand out. The showier male is easier to find, thus he takes the bullet for the family.
I think I'm just a die-hard feminist. Why can't they BOTH be showy and BOTH fight? My friend gave me a long look. "Well, if that was so, then the predators would bypass them completely and simply search for a nearby unshielded nest," he said, rather cockily, if you ask me. No way to win THAT one.
Today, Towl Park is busy. Several fishermen and women are out. A lot of dog walkers, too....strangely accompanied by children. I wonder if some schools are out today and why.
A couple walks by me, clad in warm sweaters. They are holding hands, but he keeps dropping her hand to use his hand to gesticulate. He is either very mad, very happy, or very dramatic. Maybe all three. At one point, he throws his head back hard and laughs loudly. Okay. My guess is that he is very happy. He has a Jeremiah Johnson beard and sunglasses. His companion is a plump woman with a single black braid down her back and a lovely pale complexion. She smiles softly, seems to be a good listener. They are the perfect bird match. In the wild, she could melt into the forest unobtrusively. He could not. Not with those hand gestures and bold laughter.
I watch a man in a bright red jacket sitting on a small rock by the edge of the pond. He has a small, shallow pan. Something small is moving around in it. I don't see any fishing paraphernalia. I decide to be nosy. Writing this journal has made me much more bold than I would ever be without a notebook in my hands. As I get closer, I see a small turtle about three x three inches in the pan. The guy looks up at me. Up close, I can see that he is young, maybe early twenties.
"Would you like a free turtle?" he asks. I shake my head sorrowfully. No. "I just got a new job. I'm moving to St. Louis tomorrow," he says. "I'm moving in with my brother and sister-in-law and their two bratty sons until I find a place of my own," he says. "I'm pretty sure that Paul and Abe would love turtle torturing, so I decided to come let Harvey take his chances in Towl Park pond. At least if he dies, it's a noble death," he finishes. "Not a death by being poked by pencil or some such."
I nod at the ducks in the pond. "I'd go to the other end," I tell him. "Away from the duck's sight. I think he'd stand a better chance."
He looks surprised. "Why would a duck eat a hard shelled thing like a turtle?" he asks, his voice a little arrogant. I shrug. "Just an opinion," I say and go back to my chair. The guy doesn't move. I start writing. After about ten minutes, I see the guy stand up. His pan is empty.
"Good luck in St. Louis," I call, as he walks by. He lifts his hand to say thanks. After his car goes away, I stand up and walk to where he was perched. The ducks are nowhere near. There is no turtle in sight.
"Good luck, Harvey," I say, and head off to my car.