Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Duck Pond

About a city block from my old workplace there’s a duck pond. A manmade duck pond in which large goldfish swim and real ducks settle in awaiting whatever they can cadge from visitors. They dive in that cartoonish way they have, tailfeathers waggling in the air. Come May or so, there’ll be ducklings.

Today there were three residents, two aggressive males with gorgeous green throats, the mallard masters of the pond.

One dull little brown duck, the female. A man tossed the universal food, Cheerios, one by one, to the female, then the males came charging over for their – and her – share.

The pond had little islands interspersed between the waterfall and the low rim of the pond where people and dogs sat. Each island was strewn with stones, clearly seen in March since the sheltering plants had been shorn, cut back for winter. In a few months, though, the plants will grow back to fullness with their long and broad shafts and fluffy tops. Hidden within will be the ducklings that would be tended by both males and female.

The little islands in the pond, perhaps five or six feet across, were strewn with stones and bound by what looked like barrel staves sliced to a height of a foot or so. They were wrapped with rusting metal bands, but surely they were stone, under the water, not wood.

This is real, not a decoy!

“No,” my friend said, “come closer and look.” We stepped closer to the edge and bent over, our tailfeathers less entertaining than those of the ducks, and peered under the water. “Wood. Coated with something to avoid rot? Creosote?”

I visited my friend today because I felt she needed a trip to the duck pond. At least I thought that I thought she needed it. As it turns out, I’m the one who needed the duck pond. Its quiet. Its movement. Its promise of new life.

~ Molly Matera, turning off the computer, the lights, everything.


  1. May I recommend two lovely duck ponds where I sometimes go to rest and renew my soul? The Manhasset Duck Pond on Northern Blvd. just west of Miracle Mile, and then, of course, the Roslyn Duck Pond, near where that old memory hall called My Father's Place used to exist. I agree it's wonderful finding surprising nature isles in the concrete forest, but for some real (or different) breath and head-clearing oxygen, I recommend these. There are also good places to sit and write or sketch, and if it's rainy, it's still pleasant to do so sitting in a car.

    Oh, and you'll see far more than mallards there, so do bring ye old spy glass and of course your camera/video. Warm weather, and you'll see turtles as well.

  2. I did not know about this duck pond; it's been a very long time since I've been in Lower Manhattan. I do hope the geese don't get wise to its existence, 'cause then, there goes the neighborhood!

    I've been to the Roslyn Duck Pond. It is a lovely spot, except for the excess population of geese. Someone actually has a job running around the pond to shoo away the geese! Amazing.

  3. Thanks both of you for the clues to Roslyn and MV for the additional Manhasset. At My Father's Place there were merely pigeons sheltering under the overpass, and dropping their .... droppings onto the cars parked there while we were in MFP. I'll look into the ponds. What is it about ducks? The surprising pond in lower Tribeca (near the ferry to Jersey just above the WFC) has been a lifesaver on occasion -- and not far from it, the Hudson. Water water, gulls and ducks.

  4. Ah, the overpass pigeons at MFP--legend. I prefer the Manhasset area if only because of the snootiness of the elite whose historic houses and cottages surround the Roslyn Duck Pond.

    Still, both are rather wonderful escapes, and yes, both have been lifesavers for me, as well. (Perhaps time to permanently escape to the Catskills or Cornwall!) Also, don't overlook the grounds of the Nassau Museum of Art nor good ol' Kissena Park, either. More turtles than ducks at KP, but a heartwarming, soul-soothing bit of nature, nonetheless.

    If anyone is into serious bird-watching, the there's a bird watching group operating out of Alley Pond Environmental Center. The Center has a lovely bit of grounds to walk through, with many microclimates, and hence, the conforming flora and fauna. Anyway, the Bird Watching Group--if they are still a going concern (used to be Queens County Bird something or other) --is a nice group and they have good trips near and far usually on Saturday mornings--but one truly has to be an early bird. They do Forest Park and Jamaica Bay, too. If you are a walker (and it seems you are), it's a great morning out from time to time.