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Duck Cuddles

View from my park bench on a sunny spring day, lawns, trees and flower beds, with people walking happily through the park.

I'm sitting on the perfect bench at the sundial garden in Beacon Hill Park. The bright, mid-afternoon sun is behind my right shoulder, warming me but without any glare / burn potential. It's my first shorts day of the year so I need to be careful.

Spring is moving forward at a good pace. The daffodils are nearly spent, the willows are glorious, the oaks are all full of golden early leaves. And the massive cedars stand silent and green, keeping a watchful eye on the surroundings.

The park is full of people noises. Dog walkers, old couples with their trekking sticks, and lots and lots of toddlers. Over a dozen turtles are sunning themselves on the sunning log in the middle of the pond. It's a perfect sunny Friday afternoon.

Turtles sunning themselves on a log in Beacon Hill Park

I'm making a concerted effort to not use my earbuds when I'm outside. I want to hear the real sounds, stroller wheels on pathways, Moms half-heartedly imploring their kids to stop chasing the ducks and peacocks, fountains burbling.

I have to strain my ears to hear the car noise behind me on Douglas or Cook Street. That's as it should be. This is not wilderness, not by a long shot. It's humans in nature, re-connecting with nature and each other.

The voices I hear are very different than in England. Not just the accents. What I noticed in England was a tone of exasperation, an exhaustion in everyone's voice. Mom's here call after their kids in a sing song voice that everyone expects to be ignored - even the toddlers know it. In England, every parent seemed either defeated or ready to snap, continually riding that fine line between screaming or pushing them into traffic and being done with it. And not just the kids either; dopey husbands and boyfriends, older parents, pets. They were just done with all of it. The frustration and futility transcended any accents. Add a Kentish accent on top (equal parts whiney and condescending to this Canadian ear) and it was all too much.

Things might be bad in Canada. Inequality growing, real hardship on the horizon, but not today in Beacon Hill Park. Not yet. Today we soak up the sun and the plants and animals, reconnect with all of it and let the worry slowly seep away.

I need to remember this bench. It's a good writing station. I start to focus on the ducks landing on the pond beside me. I listen closely as they tell each other stories. Not everyone can hear them but I can if I focus. About how two ponds over, the geese hog the grass. About how they are all bloated from the bread they are being fed. But it's good, they say. But it hurts, they say. Look, more bread, they say.

Two by two, the older duck couples waddle over to the bushes for some duck privacy. They know when they've eaten enough and turn their attention to each other and matters of love and companionship. Duck cuddles. Spring is in the air.