Monday, March 29, 2010

spring on the Ogden Slip

This post is mostly an excuse to talk about ducks!

It's spring, and the relationship with sunlight is changing again. There is nothing, repeat, nothing static about buildings and living in the urban landscape. It changes constantly. Now the sun is higher in the sky, playing different games of hide and seek, finding us through the canyons and over and between buildings... It's brighter. And there's more construction noise. And the branches of trees on the river, while still bare, are taking on that knobbly look as buds begin. If you sit underneath them at some point you usually experience a shower of matter on your head as sparrows peck the buds for food.

Things with the ducks are changing. The duck couple is blowing me off a bit. I really enjoyed the winter relationship I had developed with them, as they ventured out of the water farther and more often in their search for fud. It became a really common event to see the two of them trundling slowly down the pier, or to see one flap up out of the water onto the pier and know that the other one would soon follow. I am fascinated with the physics of being a duck. Those bodies are just not made for being on land; it's as if the lord affixed some stilty legs to a sodden loaf of rye bread and told it to arise and walk, carefully transferring its balance to one pin then the other.

I'm assuming it's the same duck couple--perhaps it is actually a rotating crew of identical, monogamous Mallard couples who were harassing me for food. The birds on the Slip have raised begging to a high art form. They signal each other with noises and zoom from side to side of the river, looking for bits of flung bread (why is it always bread?). The seagulls are the loudest and most upset, but also kind of fraidy-cat. They won't get that close, but like to fly about and divebomb. The sparrows dart in and out, batting clean-up, doing surprisingly well despite their size. The pigeons hover around the edges. And the ducks work in teams. The male duck often holds the bleating seagulls at bay while the female snuffles about for food.

The other day I fed one of the ducks Skittles. He loved them. I rolled off tiiiiny little bits from an individual Skittle and tossed them at the male Mallard who was squawking beadily down his bill at me. He's since become an advocate for more HFCS labeling and won't talk to me, but--whatever. It's spring, we're all a little looser.


Demandra said...

You are trying to spread the obesity epidemic into the duck world with your HFCS. gah! gah! Next time, pass me the Skittles.

Elizabeth M. Tamny said...

Mmmm...fat ducks.