Free Therapy

What a day! I needed a stroll by the river.
The raft of ducks didn’t know the tossing of small dried bread was free therapy.
As the sun lowered, shadows caused by the bowing silver birches made the bread bits look like stones.
The mallards oblivious towards my mood focused on claiming superiority, always first to the bait as it hit the water. Catching bread bombs mid-air equalled life threatening. The bread, so dry, may lodge in its neck and turn his plumage from green to blue.
The hens looked for equality. Each time a mallard ate first, the hens would pull at the preen feathers of the male as if to quack “Oi! You greedy so and so!”
The day had comprised worries, fears, and anxieties.
Might the ducks worry that the silver birches were feeling the weight of age?
Did their hearts race faster when two mischievous Yorkies decided they fancied ‘duck a la orange’ for supper?
Who would give mouth to mouth if a bread bomb got lodged in its throat? Do I get a custodial sentence for harming a duck as you do a swan?
Oh… to have a duck’s life!
Money, reputation, the future, just some of the loads this walk was meant to help sit on my shoulders.
The ducks, content with their home, set back off a road experiencing the evening rush hour had no concerns. They couldn’t smell the fear of the rent man just as they couldn’t the petrol fumes.
The further I walked, the fragrance of autumn overrode that of progress. The mixed odour of pleasant wet grass and the not so pleasant mulching of wet leaves became stronger with each stride. My mixed fibre trousers now hardening in the cold.
I supposed these feathered companions tailing me in the hope of gifts didn’t worry what other mallards or hens thought about each other. A fellow walker wearing the noisiest pair of waterproofs strolled by. They quacked a scoff at him. I chuckled at them being opinionated and judgmental. They knew despite the rain or cold they didn’t have to dress down. They were always elegant.
A coot joining the raft of ducks made me pine for youthful freedom. Its call sounded like those rubber horn bulbs we use to have on our bikes. Those were the days, out of school, ride on your bikes, play football too dark.
Oh… to have a duck’s life.
I shook out the crumbs which the wind grabbed and gracefully laid down on the water’s surface like a nice meal being placed in front of me. I checked my watch and headed home in time for tea.


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