Sunday Slideshow: waterfowl park on the cusp of winter

It was surprisingly quiet. No Canadian geese honked. No ducks splashed in the pond. The only sounds were the jingle of Roscoe’s dog tags, Philip’s mischievous giggle as he ran, and my labored breathing as I pursued him shouting, “Wait! Stop!”

I shouldn’t have been surprised by Philip’s behavior. I took him to the park last Sunday because he was full of energy. On a whim, I let Roscoe come along, too. My thirteen-year-old dog used to follow us to the car all the time but now, when he sees us putting on coats and shoes to leave, he settles into the recliner with a satisfied groan, ready to take a nap. On this day, however, Roscoe raced down the stairs to keep up.

Opening the car door I said, “Hop in.”

I was regretting my decision when Philip started to run. The allure of this particular county park is the three ponds that attract waterfowl. And Philip. While we weren’t close enough to see the first body of water, Philip was closing the distance and I was lagging behind. Roscoe cannot be trusted off leash, so I was running with the old dog in tow.

I caught Philip with a few feet to spare. While the sun was out and the weather was mild for late November, it was definitely too cold for a dip in the fishing pond.

I held Philip with one hand and Roscoe with the other as we got back on the trail. This is when I noticed that no bird calls accompanied the crunch of leaves underfoot or the distant train whistle. When we reached the largest pond it was still. No geese burst from the water to take flight. It was just the three of us and the silent fish lurking beneath the surface.

Philip, as usual, found a big stick to carry. Now I could hear the sound of the stick striking the dying grass as Philip twirled it. I could let go of Philip’s hand. He was centered, focused on his talisman. I could halt abruptly as the dog stopped to smell a muddy footprint or pee on a fence post without worrying that Philip would run away again. I could photograph the nests left exposed after the trees lost their leaves. I could appreciate the shadows the setting sun made as we made our way around the pond.

As we completed our circuit, Philip dropped the stick. He kicked piles of leaves then grabbed them in handfuls to let them drift back to the ground. The dog panted but looked content.

I was content, too.

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