I sat there…blinking, stunned. I wasn’t sure whether to be impressed or disturbed. After a moment, I finally went with disturbed. In my hand was a full loaf of enriched white bread. My cousin had given it to me right before school ended so that I could feed the ducks at the duck pond. But life had gotten hectic as I cleaned and packed in preparation for moving out of the dorm. I had eventually stashed it in a drawer, intending to take it down to the duck pond once I had gotten settled in.
It had been three months since then. And here was the loaf of bread. It looked like it had just been pulled off the store shelf: perfectly devoid of mold.
For anyone wanting to buy food in preparation for an apocalypse, this is the ideal food. It can’t go bad! I thought sarcastically. There was just something wrong with this picture. Oh, well. I never found ducks to be fazed by rotten food.
With that, I slipped on my shoes and headed out the door, still glancing down at the loaf of bread in my hand, wondering if it was even edible.
It was a nice, hot, summer day, and the sun was shining brightly when at last I got to the duck pond. There weren’t many critters about. A few ducks bobbed on the water in the shade of the bridge that spanned the pond, but nothing else stirred.
I untied the bag of bread and pulled out a slice. Just then, there was a loud plop in the water. I glanced up.
Hmm…Must have been a fish.
I began tearing off pieces of bread and tossing it toward the ducks. They lazily meandered over toward me, grabbing up the bread as I threw it. I tossed the bread nearby for a few minutes. Then, suddenly, there was a small splash in the water at my feet.
I glanced down and my eyes grew wide in surprise. A pair of catfish had come right up to the shore, their exposed backs glittering in the early afternoon sun. Now very intrigued, I dropped a piece of bread near by feet. The catfish lunged for it, nearly “beaching” themselves at the edge of the water. It wasn’t but a moment later that a large, black circle had formed in the water. It was at least four feet wide and solid catfish.
I laughed as the ducks paced around the swarm, the water practically boiling. They were not fond of contending with the fish for food, but soon they began wading into the madhouse, practically walking on fish to get at the bread.
Just then another movement caught the corner of my eye. I glanced over and began to laugh again.
A turtle head was peering up out of the water. I tossed a piece of bread in its direction, which it promptly grabbed before sinking below the water. I went to continue feeding the ducks and fish, but already more fish had come to join the party. The black, churning water was strung out at least ten feet along the water’s edge.
The turtle popped up again, this time wading into the masses of fish. I tossed a piece of bread at him and he moved as if to go after it. Just then, one of the catfish came up in front of him, grabbing the bread in one gulp and slapping the turtle in the face before sinking back under the water. The turtle’s mouth opened instantly, and I could almost imagine a look of pure indignation in his eyes.
Just then I noticed another turtle pop up out of the water. Then another. I glanced up out across the water and my mouth dropped open. There were turtles coasting toward me from the other side of the pond. I counted about two-dozen, then gave up counting.
As I stood there in wonder, a young mother and her two kids came up. The mom had a bag of crackers tucked up under her arm. I heard them talking about feeding the ducks as they headed to the bridge so I called out, “There are fish and turtles over here, too, if you want to feed them.”
The trio joined me and as they tossed crackers into the water, the boiling frenzy of the catfish began again. The little boy squealed and did a little dance as one fish came up to the edge of the water, stopping just inches away from his feet before turning back.
All the excitement seemed to interest the geese on the other side of the pond, because no sooner had the kids and their mother joined me in feeding the park wildlife, we found ourselves being mobbed by the loud, pushy birds.
I had a pile of catfish swarming at my feet, turtles crowding the masses, ducks surrounding them and geese behind me. It didn’t take me long to finish off the remainder of the bread and, with that, I opted out of the madhouse. As I walked back home, two thoughts were running through my head:
1. “How do you fit that many critters in one pond?!”
and 2. “I sure hope I didn’t make them sick…”