My company moved to its new work space almost a year and a half ago. One of the first things I noticed about our building was that it was mustard colored: a bright, condiment yellow. By itself that was prodigious. But another thing that was notable was that it were located by a creek. It was girdled by concrete, true, but it was a creek regardless. A sign close by even confirmed the fact: Ballona Creek.
I walk by it every working day. In the autumn and winter the rain makes it thrilling and torrential. In spring it relaxes into a mild, green current. In summer, well, sediment is pretty too.
One day, months and months ago, I was walking to work and approaching the bridge that spans over the creek. I look into the creek always, an innocent tryst born of curiosity and hope. But this time I noticed that someone else was doing the same thing. And something must have grabbed his attention, because he had paused: he was watching something.
Now, I don’t know why I spoke to him: perhaps it was, as I recall, a Friday – and on that special day I was more likely to approach a fellow-creature in a rare fit of celebration and friendliness. Anyway, I asked what was of such gripping interest, and he pointed towards the creek. There were four female mallard ducks waddling in the shallows towards – as far as I could make out – the San Diego Freeway.
We happily watched their progress for some time before I had to continue my walk to work. I spent the rest of the day in happy speculation: what were they doing there? How did they get there? What were their plans for the day? Were they on a lady-ducks’ day out? Perhaps on their way to meeting some friends for lunch on the banks of Ballona Creek – or further on, where it empties into the Santa Monica Bay?
Whatever their plans were, it must have pleased them, because even now I swear that I heard them softly, contentedly, quacking to each other.