I sat down on a large flat rock at the bank of the river. The sky was overcast and gray reflecting on the still water just the same. Few trees were scattered along the riverbank some bare, some evergreen. The cold damp ground was covered in crackly russet remnants from those barren trees.
I came for peace. I came for the gray stillness that reflected off the water and off my mind. I pulled my hood over my head, grateful for the soft lining inside my sweatshirt. I pulled my knees up and let my arms hang on top of them.
My movement caused me to spill my latte that I placed next to me on the rock.
“Dang it!” I blurted without thinking.
“Honk, honk,” A chorus of geese from across the lake intercepted my cursing. I stopped and settled on a dry spot on the rock. Listening, forgetting my three dollar spilled drink that I had to scrounge for change to get.
I couldn’t see them but there were a lot of them across the way. It was clear across the water just the clouds above that blocked the sun. Finally, I spotted the tiny dots on the water’s edge. Straining my eyes didn’t help so I closed them and just listened. Then it occurred to me the majority of them had the same nasally honk except for one loner. One of them laughed. It wasn’t at all a honk, not nasally at all. It was more like a nerdy throaty laugh.
I chuckled at the silliness of my thoughts. Maybe it was just a hunter using his call.
A sound startled me and I opened my eyes to see a small duck making his way to land in the water, his flight was parallel to the river and then his tail dipped, his webbed feet stretched out skidding along the tip of the water so fast his wake disturbed the tranquility. He stopped so suddenly I sat in wonder over the simple act.
I sat for a while like this. In wonder. For a change, I had no worries, no guilt, no pain. I felt good. I didn’t need to be anywhere at least for a little while and I didn’t let that thought become more than it should. I was always in a hurry, on the run to get things done. I let it go.
Another squawking overhead, this time it was a seagull. I followed its descent and realized there were two ducks this time in the water. One had dinner flapping in its little beak. A small appetizer for the gull but looked more like the main meal for the little mallard and he fought with all he’s got. With one duck chasing and a gull overhead I thought this little guy was doomed to lose his good eats. The two ducks splashed loudly while they chased, darting this way and that but never taking flight.
The gull gave up and I thought the game was over but to my surprise a bald eagle swooped down and tried to take that fish from the weary duck. I couldn’t believe my luck, to see a bald eagle so close to the city. It used to be such a special treat to see one of these when I was a child because they were on the endangered species list. But I guess 30 some years have passed and things have changed. I never noticed so caught up in my own little world at home. I never pay attention to the outside world.
The eagle was majestic just like everyone says. Its wingspan put the gull to shame. I thought there was no hope for that little mallard now. But each time the eagle charged and swooped, the duck dove in the water. Smart little guy. Sooner than I expected the eagle gave up and flew north.
The mallard kept his treasure and paddled his heart out. Keep going little guy! You did it!
In the distance, I heard three popping sounds.