There’s a bakery outlet near me that sells “bird bread.”
This “bird bread” varies; some days you get english muffins or bagels, other days wheat and rye. But it’s always as much smushed, almost expired, or otherwise unsaleable bread as’ll fit into a cheap plastic bag. You can’t see the contents (they’re all pre-bagged) but you can feel them. And so I do. Today I got 7 loaves for $2.99; five 12-grain and a couple squishy white. Score!
The bread store woman and I are quite friendly. We like to chat. She tells me funny stories whenever I stop in, often about other customers. “Bird bread” attracts some interesting types, as do discounts. Anyway, today as I was fondling the bird bread, I asked her which type ducks like best. Knowing me she didn’t judge, but she did laugh. They’re birds- it’s BREAD! Personally, I feel better giving birds healthy stuff. Whole grain, whole wheat. Bread that gets stale quicker makes for easier piecing, too. White bread is so gummy.
But honestly, whatever kind we bring, they don’t seem to mind. As soon as the ducks see us, they HUSTLE. If you’ve never seen a flock of birds boogie en masse, you should. It’s adorable! We call to the late-comers. HURRY GUYS! Soon, we’re squatting, surrounded on all sides by our feathered friends who’re jockeying for position. Some make noise. Others are more aggressive. They lunge and nip at each other and pull out feathers. Some even steal pieces from our hands. Most of the flock are sweet, but they all want BREAD.
These duck feeding sessions are good for the soul. It’s why old people sit on park benches feeding pigeons. They’re wise! They know. My daughters and I may be growing or grown, but when we feed the ducks we’re just kids. Giggling, having fun, choosing favorites from the flock and trying to feed them by hand. I do like to be democratic, though. Those ducks in the back I toss harder to, but sometimes not hard enough. Some ducks are GREEDY. SO greedy you sometimes wanna SHAKE A DUCK. But you don’t.
Instead we focus on the flock. Their little faces! Their tails! Their happiness. And ours. Even after the bread is gone they stand beside us, hopeful. “Till next time,” friends.