It's been 40 days. I counted them. 40 days since I saw that lone mallard duck.
I was on a walk. As I approached the edge, just about to pass the memorial that is like a small park, but in some ways is also like a cemetery with a design that invites you to enter to sit at one of the granite slabs, invites you to read the descriptions, to honor those that have served, to feel comfort in the tall birch trees that stand among the tufted grass, their white skin peeling off like pages in a book.
And when you approach from any direction, you see the tall slabs of granite that grace the edge of the sidewalk, water trickling down. In the middle you see the shallow geometrical shapes, filled with water, and down the center is a long path–the entire memorial is meant to be walked, to soak in the beauty, to take in the quiet, taking our minds somewhere, to make us think and appreciate. You can walk up and put your hand into the water. I've seen teenage boys ride their bikes through. I cringe when they do, only because it doesn't feel like that's what it's meant for, but it's so inviting, and at the same time, it causes a quiet stir inside.
So, it was here that I was taken aback when I saw a single mallard peering into his own reflection or so it seemed. He stood at the edge of the water just looking in as though he was in a trance. I walked past and continued on with my walk.
The next day I walked the same path and I hoped to see the mallard. I did. Only this time he was curled up near the same spot that I saw him the day before. I felt sad. I asked myself why I felt sadness. Was it because I wasn't used to seeing ducks alone or appearing as if they are in contemplation and then snuggled up as if they are suffering a great loss.
I sat at one of the granite slabs and watched the mallard. It was peaceful, even as the street traffic passed by.
And then there came a passerby and he began snapping photos with his camera. He approached the mallard, the mallard got up and walked away and snuggled up in a different spot. The man tried again, only to cause the mallard to move again. Finally, the man stopped.
The mallard resumed his repose.