Sunday, 5 April 2009

Feeding the ducks

I never quite liked Sundays. It is still the weekend, but one cannot forget that the new week will start tomorrow. Sunday makes me feel slightly melancholic, much more than any other day of the week, whether I am employed or not. Even when I am on holiday, as it will be the case tomorrow (Easter holidays in England last quite long when one is a teacher), there is always that Sunday melancholia that refuses to leave. I only feel different about Sundays when it is a holy day.

I can also cure the Sunday melancholia by doing some nice activities. This afternoon, my wife and I went feeding the ducks. I have a special fondness for ducks, for some reason. When I was a child, my dad bought those wooden ducks that he put over the mantelpiece. I was fascinated by them. They are still on the mantelpiece at home, until Christmas comes and it gets taken over by the Nativity Scene. My parents bought more wooden animals of the duck family, including a Canada goose that is the size of a real one and is absolutely gorgeous. So the house in Chicoutimi is also an aviary for wooden ducks. When autumn came, my dad used to go duck hunting and for some reason I was fascinated by it (I was always fascinated by guns and animals of the wild). My wife might be shocked reading this, but I was very curious about the taste of duck. I never tried it as a child, but discovered it much later on. To my great shame, I have to admit that it is delicious. When we have foie gras at Christmas (which my wife pronounces foy gras, because it sounds more disgusting), I still love the taste, but I can't help feeling guilty.

Anyway, that is my story with my relationship with ducks, geese and swans. For me, they are synonymous of wild birds (sauvagine as we call the ducks, geese and swans family in Québécois French), cold autumn days, Ugly Duckling, Swan Lake, Nils Holgersson, mysterious forests and swamps, dark lakes, , they are something both exotic and familiar. So long story short (well, too late for that), I love seeing them and feeding them. So that is what we did this afternoon, we went to feed the sauvagine in the park, by the River Thames. There were mallards, lots of swans, many Canada geese and some other kind of ducks. Feeding ducks in England comes a long way to me: back in 1988, for my first trip here, my family and I spent as much time in Hyde Park feeding as in the British Museum. Getting so close to wild birds was then something very unusual to me. I still have that feeling of doing something very original, even though I am surrounded by people, adults and young children, doing exactly the same thing.

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