On a gloomy day and in much pain, I asked my husband if he would drive me to the next village where we could sit quietly by the canal. I felt in need of fresh air, of some quiet time with nature while observing the sedate and elegant barges moored or gliding by in their unassuming fashion, a smile and a wave from the owners as they pass.
We parked in the car park of the country pub and made our way down to the towpath to find a bench. It wasn’t easy, my back was very stiff and painful, not helped by the damp, chilly conditions, but the tranquil atmosphere began working its miracle immediately.
There were lots of barges on the canal that day, most were moored but there were others passing through, immaculately painted and often decorated with pot plants. They left gentle ripples as they crept quietly by, almost surreptitiously.
Weeping willows graced the opposite bank and further along there were interesting, often eccentric, gardens leading down to the water:
But what fascinated us most was a male mallard. Seen first at some distance, on the towpath by himself, he was paying particular attention to something on the ground. We couldn’t see what it was at first and we approached slowly and quietly. He didn’t pay us any attention, he was completely focused on the thing he kept picking up and dropping.
As we drew closer, I realised he was trying to swallow whole acorns! He kept picking them up – they were still attached to the cup and stalk – tipping his head back and then letting it drop again, tapping it on the ground then having another go. He was completely oblivious to our presence and I clicked away.
This went on for some time. The slight rustling of a plastic carrier bag alerted the duck to a man approaching, but he carried on trying to swallow the acorn before the man reached him. He briefly and reluctantly gave up, walked away to the water’s edge and waited for the man to pass. He then walked calmly back, past other acorns and searched for the exact ones he’d been wrestling with.
He found them and with one almighty effort, he did it, he actually swallowed them whole! He then waddled over to the water, stood for a while like a child summoning up the courage to dive in and off he went to join the others.
As we turned to go back to the pub, I found another rock (See Laughter Really Is The Best Medicine – Paint a Rock & Give a Smile to Someone Who Needs It!:
I rehid it in a flower box.
As I did so, I heard voices near by and then laughter. I looked up to see two friends coming out of the pub after having lunch. We joined them for a drink and a chat outside, overlooking the water.
I went home, refreshed, inspired, re-energised, and proud that I’d made the effort despite feeling like I needed an oil change and a few replacement parts!
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Copyright: Chris McGowan
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