2D Stone Soup for Ducks
June 12, 2007
As we walked along the path by the lake, we saw some ducks in a lagoon. As we began to approach the ducks, we also saw a great blue heron standing in the water of the lagoon, looking down into the water, probably thinking about spearing some fish with its great beak-colored beak.
As we approached the ducks, the ducks approached us, quacking for handouts. Although most people do not find beggars with signs at the freeway off ramps, asking for handouts, all that cute, many people find ducks quacking for handouts at the side of a lagoon very cute, and throw them stale white bread, though looking at the ground around the lagoon, I thought the white bread doesn’t seem to cause a constipation problem for the ducks, as it sometimes does for people.
Though just the other day, I saw a BMW stop at an off ramp, and the driver of the BMW hand a homeless person a dollar out her car window, so if ducks aren’t available, I guess you do what you have to do to entertain yourself or satisfy your urge to feel benevolent. And really, placing quacking ducks by the side of freeway off ramps probably wouldn’t work out that well, as the average driver probably doesn’t have some stale white bread handy to throw out the window.
Mrs. Random was fascinated with the great blue heron. Usually herons fly away when people get close, but this heron was evidently habituated to people and remained standing as we approached. This disappointed Mrs. Random, who told a story about seeing a couple of herons try to take off, describing what difficulty they had in getting airborne. Bad Mrs. Random wanted the see this heron take off, but Mrs. Random has a lot of self-control and a respect for the proprieties, so she did not wave her hands in a forceful manner or yell, “Boo!” to stimulate the heron into taking off.
Eventually, the heron did take off, perhaps stimulated by the force of Mrs. Random’s thoughts alone, which are quite forceful all by themselves.
RG, on the other hand, wanted to feed the ducks, and began to reach into her bag of rice crackers, evidently with that purpose in mind. Mommy (Random Daughter’s Out of Law Partner) told her that rice crackers are not duck food. (I am not sure why this is so, as ducks consider an amazing variety of comestibles as duck food, but I generally do not contradict Mommies in front of Random Granddaughter, so I held my peace.)
RG, however, decided that the ducks would consider pebbles as duck food, and began to throw pebbles into the water near the ducks. The ducks were interested for a second or two as pebbles hit the water, but then quickly decided that pebbles fell outside even their catholic definition of things to eat. In fact, the ducks seemed not amused. In fact, as birds go, ducks generally have two expressions: I am hungry and I am not amused. In fact, they often have the two expressions at the same time. Ducks may be bi-expressioned birds.
Mommy suggested to RG that she not throw her pebbles at the ducks.
“Why?” asked RG.
“You might scare the ducks,” Mommy answered.
The thrown pebbles veered away from the ducks for a minute or two, and then approached them again. I noticed that RG was discovering a game that she will probably play frequently as a teenager: How close can I get to provoking my parents into rage without actually going over the line?
Several times during the next few minutes, the pebbles would get closer to the ducks; Mommy would remonstrate with RG, the pebbles would increase their distance, and then a few minutes later would approach the ducks again. RG was obviously practicing calibration of her parent-provoking skills.
We then saw two large turtles sitting on a log. “Why are they sitting on the log?” RG asked.
“They are warming themselves in the sun,” Mommy answered.
“Why?” RG asked.
“Because they are cold-blooded animals. The water is too cold, and they would get cold if they went in the water.”
RG was silent. I’m not sure the silence meant she was processing the information or meant you have told me more than I want to know about turtle thermodynamics.
We were getting a bit cold ourselves, so we moved on.
[to be continued]