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"Go fish, duckies, go fish!"

Thursday 6/11/20

Walked five miles yesterday. Hoping to be able to run today. There is so much to do. I stopped at the Public Garden on my walk back. I like to see the ducklings, and the Public Garden is perhaps my favorite spot in Boston, ducklings or no. I was standing by the water's edge, with numerous adult mallards a little ways away up on the bank, when this little girl ran over with a bag of Doritos, and started pelting the mallards with them while shouting, "go fish, duckies, go fish!" Having realized they were not under attack--which was the initial reaction--the mallards, indeed, went fishing, as it were--well, a kind of fishing, I suppose--and ate up all of the Doritos, to the girl's delight.

Doritos. A simple thing can remind us of something maybe not so simple. When I was very small--the age of this young child--I didn't have any sisters yet. I remember spending a lot of time with my mother. We would talk. We would read. This was before I could read, but I loved stories. I remember thinking not just about what was going to happen, but why the people--and the animals--in the stories made the choices they made. I remember noting how interesting it was when someone had to make a choice in a story. Sometimes, in the same story, they'd make a choice in a similar situation different than one they had made earlier. And I remember thinking that there was much to note in this. Simple in some ways, not simple in others.

On those days when my mother read to me, I was, in a way, writing "Fitty," "The Last Field," "Skip Shack," "Potlatch," "Country Miles," "The Roll of Words," "Crossing Deer." We'd sit on the couch, read, and eat Doritos and onion dip. That's what we did later in the day, when we waited for my dad to come home. Such a simple thing, and yet, for me, not simple at all, not nearly.

I thought about those times as I looked at the little girl. She smiled at me, and I smiled at her, and she continued pelting the ducks with Doritos (which was the brunt of her focus), the mallards by then understanding that you had to deal with a head shot or two if you wanted a repast of that very tasty Nacho Cheese. Which, actually, is the name of another story I wrote. Her mother came up behind her, with an even younger child who was making what turned out to be an aborted break for freedom, and the mother smiled at me, and said, "She thinks ducks like Doritos," and I thought, "seems like they definitely do."


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