A simple space with well-kept grass, a still, mucky brown pond, a small stone bridge, and beautiful shade trees with twisted branches that I was too afraid to climb.
Always bringing a peace offering of old bread, or fresh bread that we’d just picked up from 7-11 if there wasn’t any old bread; one didn’t come empty-handed to the duck pond.
Seeing us approach, food in hand, the ducks would promptly begin swimming in from the middle of the pond alerting others with their vibrant squawks. White wings from the distance would swoop in and resting flocks would spring to life. The chiming of a dinner bell in the sounds of our voices.
My mother would hold the bag of sliced bread, and my brother and I would delight in each taking a piece to the border of the pond to dispense amongst our welcoming fans. My brother would rapidly rip the piece of bread into four huge chunks which he would throw to the ground and watch the aggressive ducks pinch at with their tiny beaks. Snapping, shrill protesting, and ruffling feathers would ensue as the ducks gathered around and tried to eat from the same hunk. He would then rush back to our mom to get another piece and repeat the process.
My strategy was to slowly shred my slice of bread into bite-size pieces in order to feed the maximum number of pond-dwellers. Trying to distinguish one duck from the next, I would determine which ducks had had their fill, (usually the persistent ones closest to my feet) and which had been left out of the feeding frenzy, taking a special interest in the more meek animals, attempting to spread the wealth.
After the bread would run out, which happened quickly thanks to the eager humans and the hungry birds, my brother and I would run around in the dazzling green grass with our arms outstretched pretending to be airplanes. Running, laughing, and rolling around until we, and our stained play clothes, were thoroughly worn out.
My favorite moments were the quiet ones just before it was time to leave when I would gently toss pebbles into the chocolate stillness, watching them disappear silently into the expanding circles of acceptance.