Ducks and strawberries
Have you ever seen a duck trying to eat a strawberry bigger than its head?
I had a meeting with my dissertation supervisor today, and so got on a train and then got on a bus and finally fetched up on the out-of-a-different-town campus where the Department of English and Related Literature hang out. I left a ridiculous amount of time in hand in case of train failure, bus failure and getting lost; in the event, none of these things happened, and so I found myself on campus with a good three-quarters of an hour to spare.
I bought a box of local strawberries from the campus shop and headed off to find a shady spot on the grass to eat them. I ended up on a bench next to a muddy, reedy, willow-shadowed arm of the lake, surrounded by ducks, which when I sat down waddled over hopefully and started craning their necks. I ate most of my box of strawberries, and gave them the little stringy bits that it’s impossible to get off the stem and also the manky and/or mysteriously coloured ones. They wolfed them down.
For future reference, the way a duck with a two-centimetre-wide beak eats a four-centimetre-wide strawberry is to run frantically around with it clutched in its mouth until its pursuing rivals give up, then drop the strawberry and peck bits off it until the remaining piece is small enough to swallow in one go. It then attempts to lick the puddle of juice thus generated off the footpath, and fails miserably because ducks can’t really lick things.
I am considerably happier for having seen this happen.
The whole business was quaint and silly and remarkably English in a strange sort of way – strawberries, green grass, chattering students talking about Stephen and Matilda and Lionel Messi as they went past, ducks, Canada geese posturing in the distance, June sunshine that’s warm and bright without being oppressively either.
It’s a beautiful day.