The bread was stale so I went to toss it in the trash and heard, “Keep that and you can feed it to the ducks later.” It is absolutely amazing the little movements, sounds, smells, and actions that can trigger a memory.
I loved feeding the fish and the ducks in the evenings. I would go to the end of the dock and lay on the edge. I made tiny balls out of the bread and hung my hand over the side of the dock and dropped a ball in. I would watch the slight ripple in the water when it landed and then how it swearved around under the water. It never made it to the bottom. A fish always got it. The side of my face would have dock marks on it by the time I sat up. It was very calming watching the fish eat the bread. The stale crusts got tossed to the ducks. We had mallard ducks on our lake. There were always two.
One summer a duck had her ducklings. She would bring her babies with her while she ate the bread. Very rarely I could touch just a tip of a baby’s tail. Baby ducklings have the softest feathers you could ever imagine. One afternoon I watched as one of the baby ducklings went under water and never came back up again. I was horrified. My mother was horrified. The bass in the lake had mouths far bigger than those ducklings. I was told the bass were eating them. Later I wondered if it was an alligator. I”m still not sure why they went under and didn’t come back up, but my mother and father rounded all of those ducklings up and put them in our fort that my dad built us, until they were big enough to go back on the lake. Then we had to protect them from the snakes on the ground. Most of the babies survived and I still remember releasing them back onto the lake. Every night I still fed the ducks but I took up fishing soon after that. I didn’t care much about feeding the fish anymore.
My grandfather taught me how to fish. He had his tackle box and all of his fishing lures. I was fascinated by the lures. I was fascinated at the idea of tricking a fish with this lure. He was very proud of my first fish. I still remember holding it up in he and Nana’s kitchen, still on the line while someone took my picture. But as I got older I felt bad for the fish. I thought they were suffering and couldn’t stand to watch them gasping for air as their big eyes looked around. I stopped fishing. I went back to feeding the ducks. I didn’t know that ducks don’t live 30 years until I was probably 40 and realized that it wasn’t the same duck that was there every year. But growing up, year after year, I just assumed the same two ducks came back for me to feed them.
Those little ducklings though, swimming with their mother was a sight to see.
Throwing some stale bread out, reminded me. I love those memories.