Wednesday, April 7, 2021


 William and I went down to feed the ducks at The Point, the place where the Conewango Creek and the Allegheny River converge. On that relatively lonely place, there are a few benches and a pavilion for picnicking.

William was anxious to see if the goose that eats from his hand was there, so he danced on along ahead. Following him, I remembered that this is where they found the bike of the missing man back in February. It gave me a little shiver. 

There was another woman there with her grandson. They were feeding ducks too. She called William over. It seemed like she wanted the boys to play together. Isaac was a talker and so was his grandma. She was tearing hunks of bread up and popping them in her mouth. "Want some? The outside is hard, but the inside is soft." She extended the bread. 

I was a little shocked. "No, we've just had lunch. Thank you though." 

She sighed. "Yeah. I shouldn't be eating it either. I like your hair. Who cuts it?" 

Okay. Now I hadn't done one thing with my hair. It was windblown and thin and every which way, so I realized that she was wanting to talk, about anything, to anybody. Just talk. I remembered the woman who stopped to talk to John over at Going Gently and a lot of his commenters all had the same thing to say: in these days of covid, some people just hunger for a human connection. I knew this woman was one. I recognized it, because I'm one too. 

"My sister does," I said. 

"My hair needs cut so badly. I need a color." She shook her head in frustration. 

"Yeah. I just stopped coloring mine when this all started. I was a little surprised that there was all this gray under there. I expected to see some but..."

She laughed. 

We chatted a bit while we watched the boys finding mussels in the water. The ducks bickered between themselves. 

"Well, William, we'd better get headed home. Your mom will be coming home from work soon," and William scampered up the bank, wiping his hands on his jeans. We said goodbye to the woman and Isaac and we walked back to the car together.  She seemed like a nice enough soul despite my initial reservations. I was glad that I took the time to chat. I guess all of us are a bit adrift in this strange days. 

When I got home, I had a press release waiting for me, 

There was a positive identification of a body that had drifted 20 miles downriver from us.  It was  the man missing since February. I closed my eyes. After two months, his family finally, finally, had their answer. As painful as it had to be, at least they now know. 

I forwarded the information along to the editor, who had it up as breaking news within the quarter hour. 


  1. There is so much loneliness and sadness these days. We should make sure we appreciate all the wonderful moments, such as your day with William.

  2. Similar situation here in the UK this week with a young troubled man missing and a body just found in woods and now waiting identification. What these families must go through but, as you rightly say, knowing is so important and does give some kind of closure.

  3. I will try to remember this when an old person who is starved of contact and conversation and wants to chat.

  4. I'm glad you took some time to chat with that woman. I'm always leery of getting sucked into a conversation with a stranger, especially in the city, but you're right -- some people are hungry for contact. Did you write earlier about this missing man? I'll have to look up that post! As you said, at least his family has some resolution.

    I'm realizing there are things I don't know (or, yikes, don't remember) about you! Who is this editor of whom you speak? Are you a journalist? Do you and I share that background?

  5. A pleasant little anecdote although I understand that bread is not good for the ducks.

  6. Oh, yeah, I looked up the missing man post. I remember now!

  7. There is a lot of people suffering from rural isolation in the countryside. I remember donkeys years a go going in a cake shop near Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh and they sold bread to feed to the ducks. You took me back twenty three years feeding ducks with my eldest.

  8. I think that bread is not good for ducks but truly, I think the danger is over stated. Once in the grocery store parking lot, I saw an injured duck. It was sitting on one of the grass covered dividers in the parking lot. It could not fly, and it followed me to my car. I felt so bad for it. I opened up a loaf of bread and gave him a slice of bread broken up, and this woman walking by FREAKED OUT. She was yelling that feeding a duck bread will make its stomach explode. Yelling, mind you. I was with my youngest daughter who was a bit startled. So I said, "Yes. That's the part that I hate about the riverwalk. (Where the old ladies feed ducks). You can hardly walk for all the exploded ducks." Here's what I think. Feeding a flock of ducks/geese bread is not going to make them explode. However I do believe that it's not nutritious as other things. I also believe that they fill their gullets on crap, left to their own devices, will gorge on bread to the exclusion of healthy food. We use stale/old cereal usually. Sometimes we use stale wheat bread.

  9. No Steve. It is more like I am a collector.

  10. I find it amazing that I have gone nearly 50 years and until last week, never knew about the bread/duck thing. I saw it on my Facebook feed and thought it was just another viral false post but after googling, found that bread was indeed not very healthy for ducks. It really didn't affect me since I have never fed one in my life. I guess it is the difference between growing up on a farm versus a city with walkways and benches by bodies of water.

    There is an old John Prine song I am reminded of with the rest of your post. It is called "Hello In There" and the last verse is:

    So if you're walking down the street sometime
    And spot some hollow ancient eyes
    Please don't just pass 'em by and stare
    As if you didn't care, say, "Hello in there, hello"

  11. Loneliness must be a terrible thing - like a sort of unspecific grief. I like to talk to people on my walks - it's interesting how easier this in certain parts of the country than others - broadly, the further north and west you go in England and Wales the more open and talkative are the people you meet.

  12. As a widow with an active social life pre-pandemic, the isolation has been hard for me. I am aware that I talk too much, so am careful when I do see others that I don't overwhelm them with chatter. :) Very sad for that man's family but better to have closure. (in my opinion)

  13. Forgot to mention that we picked our first spear of asparagus yesterday. It was a loner but with this warm weather, more will be coming shortly.

  14. You really do have a mean streak in ya, Ed. :)

  15. Good on you for taking the time to have a conversation with the lady. As the Scripture says, you never know when you might be "entertaining angels."


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