He steps off the path towards the bottom of the hill. Raising his arms he begins to push his way through the strange looking trees. They are soft and brush past easily, releasing a smell that is hard to place. The woods are quiet with only the occasional bird call. After a few minutes he brushes past one last branch finding himself in a clearing. It's a beautiful sight. A quite beach and a lake, all surrounded by the bright trees just past. A metallic dragonfly speeds by, startling him out of a daze. He immediately tries to find the bug back as it was such a unique color but has lost it in the trees.
Disappointed, he turns heading around the body of water, pulling a little bag out of his pocket. He examines it’s contents with a curious look. The bag rattles as he brings it closer and a sound follows. The man looks up and glances around as the noise comes again. Coming to a stop he looks to the water’s edge and sees a single duck quacking. He begins to move forward when the sound of wings flapping comes from the trees. A flock of ducks has risen up into the sky and are circling down into the water. As they land, the quacking gets louder and begin to head his direction.
There is ten of them right at his feet within seconds all making a racket and staring up at him with beady little eyes. He can tell there are more headed his way and starts to shuffle backwards. The noise is deafening and there are too many. One takes a swipe at his pants. Fighting breaks out as they struggle to get closer, flapping their wings wildly. Another snaps at his shoes and he stumbles back, falling over one that has crept up behind him. As soon as he hits the ground one lands on his leg and he shakes trying to freeing himself from the overly friendly bird. Scrambling up to his feet and he begins to run, surging his way through the flock. It is strange to be scared of ducks, but he is terrified.
The man’s heart is racing and he keeps going until the incessant quacking decreases. When he finally looks behind, he can see that they have given up and are heading back to the water. He stops gasping for breath. Bending over, bracing his hands on his knees, he gulps down lungfuls of air. That was surprising, who knew ducks could gather so quickly. Looking down at his hands, he sees the little bag and wonders if the rustling of the kernels attracted the them. The bag must be filled with food and like a dinner bell, the sound must have drawn their attention. He doesn’t want to be surrounded again and glancing back, begins to briskly walk the other direction.
Occasionally he glances back towards the ducks, checking to see how close they are, but instead of ducks there is something else. It is slowly paddling towards him and startled he leaps back from the waters edge. It takes a moment to come close enough to make out. It's small, oblong shaped, black with blocks of brown. If he hadn't glanced back he probably won’t have even seen it. It's a little turtle and that brings a smile to his face. Turtles are not as scary as ducks! Approaching the waters edge again, the bag rustles and with a glance down he switches which hand it’s in and opens it up. Taking a small handful, he tosses it to the turtle. The turtle turns towards one of the kernels and devours it. Success! Just as he grabs a second piece, another surprise appears from the depths of the water below him.
They are massive, brightly colored, and surround the turtle easily. The Koi have been hiding at the bottom of the lake waiting for this exact moment, thinks the man. Now they are battering the poor turtle for the little handful of food thrown. The man tosses another handful of the food, but the turtle does not get any. So he tosses some to the right and the Koi rush that direction, leaving the turtle alone for a moment. The next few throws are spent dividing the food to the sides, directing the Koi further away. Halfways through the bag, he tosses another handful to the turtle. He manages a few more peaceful bites. The man sinks onto the ground and watches the the turtle swim in circles seeking out more. The large Koi leave him alone and eventually head back to the bottom of the lake.
Just as the water is settling down and he goes to stand up, he sees another shadow. This one darker and bigger than the first. Soon it is a few feet away and while struggling to make out what it is, the turtle has disappeared. There are bits of kernels left in the water and as the moving shadow gets close enough to devour them, he realizes it’s a hoard of baby Koi. They must have come in search of the food. Intrigued he throws another handful. The baby Koi are an intense group of fish and quickly jump out to seek what was thrown. Their color is very different from the bright yellows and oranges of the adult Koi. These are dark almost black and it’s hard to imagine them as the same fish from a few minutes ago. After a few moments of watching the baby Koi, he rises to his full height and continues along. The hoard follows for a bit but eventually is left behind.
The next few minutes are peaceful and he walks, enjoying the serene view. He is not really paying attention when something runs past brushing his pantleg. The man gasps, jumping back clasping his heart and dropping the bag. He takes a moment to breath before looking around and finding what ran past. It’s a tiny chipmunk, who has stopped to stare. A moment passes as the two stare at each other. Eventually the man looks to the bag on the ground and back to the chipmunk. He slowly sinks down on his hunches reaching for the bag. The rattle makes the creature hop a little closer. A single chipmunk is not as scary as a flock of ducks and so he turns the bag upside down, spilling the last of its contents in front of him. Then waits watching the chipmunk to see what he will do. The little guy takes a moment to cock his head staring, but he is brave and after a moment comes right up, fills his cheeks then darts away.
For a few beats he waits to see if he’ll come back, but he doesn’t and the man’s calves are beginning to ache. He stands up and strides forward when something dashes by again. Turning he sees four chipmunks stuffing their cheeks, the first has brought friends. The man hesitant because of the ducks takes a step back glancing around. Finding two more behind him and a look towards the trees has him seeing dozens of eyes staring back at him. As calm as he can, he turns back towards the place he entered from and beings to walk, looking behind occasionally. The two that were in front are now keeping pace. They on the right, the lake on the left with the ducks still paddling around. As he gets closer the ducks begin to quack again and start to head his way. The man frowns and breaks into a brisk jog. It is time to leave this lake behind.
Pictures are from the Anderson Japanese Gardens. The creatures we saw during our visit to the garden inspired my story. I took some liberties, there is no hill and all the creatures were perfectly lovely, not terrifying at all. We visit the garden on a chilly Wednesday morning. Thinking it would be cool we dressed appropriately, only for it to grow into a rather hot day. The gardens boasted of turtles, koi fish, and ducks, beautiful garden spreads, and a lovely walk. It was definitely all that. I love exploring gardens and would love to one day have one half as beautiful. I did take a picture of the two of us if you’d like to see it click here.
Would love to hear your thoughts on my story. Or where your favorite garden is. Thanks for reading.
I'm a lifestyle blogger, covering deep subjects including body images, battles with food, and overcoming how I was raised. I try to be as authentic as possible and I don’t sugar coat how I see things.