Tuesday, 15 May 2007

watching the ducks.

I'm sitting on the South bank of the Torrens studying, just West of the Footbridge, or perhaps I am doing my best not to study. Although there is a little chill in the breeze, it's a lovely day, and I'm enjoying being outside on the grass, in a sunny spot. It is Autumn, and the leaves are changing colour on the trees - the European trees on the banks that is, the gum trees are blue-grey and spindly, as they always are. A mother duck pops up out of the water and on to the bank near me, and I smile as I see a raft of seven little yellow ducklings scramble their way up after her. They trail behind her in a straight line and walk right in front of me - I marvel at their audacity, to come so close to a human with no fear whatsoever. Then one little duckling peels off from its siblings, crazy with freedom, or just a little dazed and confused perhaps. It comes across my left knee in the middle of its path, and promptly climbs up and wanders across my lap. I am transfixed, and want more than anything to touch its golden down with the tip of my finger. For all its daring though, it is a wild creature, so I hold my breath and watch silently as it muddles its way down from my right knee and back into the fold. The mother duck has been watching me intently, more wary than her baby has learnt to be, but soon forgets me, and they continue puddling their way along the river's edge, before tumbling back into the water one by one, and paddling off down the river.

Last week, while crossing the footbridge, a plump of ducks came flying toward me and split in two, going over and under the bridge and joining back up on the other side. They fly so fast, but they are so elegant and controlled in their effortless coordination. I watch them go, and remember that day a few years ago, when the little duckling pattered across my lap. I wonder if he could be amongst this grown-up flock. On the other side of the bridge, on the North river bank, two black swans and their five babies are eating from a lone student's hand. Two black swans, four black cygnets, and their beautiful white sister.

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