Tuesday, February 10, 2009

It's What's Inside That Counts

My brother-in-law Bob is excited about leading Allen and I on a bike
ride through his neighborhood in Largo, FL.

We are a surreal train of sorts, Bob on his scooter, Allen on his
recumbent and me on my 21-speed mountain bike. We wind (at 10 mph)
through residential streets, where, whether the houses rank from low
to high income, there is little privacy. The lots measure the length
of the houses sitting on them.

And, it's congested.

So when Bob says he's taking us to his duck pond, I think he's taking
us to a public park, where kids escape this concrete to bounce a few
balls, ride bikes, climb a few monkey bars.

What he leads us to is a tiny, fenced-in pond carved out of a vacant
building lot. It's little more than a water drainage site. We stand outside the fence. There is no gate to get in.

It looks pathetic, compared to what I imagined.

But inside those ratty-looking fences, are five ducks and seven
turtles, all of whom paddle over to see us when we pop our heads over
the top of the stockade fence.

It's magical. They are all curious. We are, too. We stand spellbound, outside the fence, unable to get in, 
completely distanced from our odd surroundings. We must look like
turtles ourselves, because the only thing these little guys can see
are our helmets, heads and necks.

Before we leave on Wednesday, I'm going back to this little urban
water hole. And see the ducks and turtles again. Inside the fence.

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