The weather may be muggy today but it’s tempting not to stay indoors. So I decided to drive around and take photos of the town where I’ve lived for the last 13 years. Then I met Bernie. This is his story.
My stopover was in a park with a large pond near my home. It must have been my lucky day! I just spotted a pair of swans frolicking in the water. What a good photo that would make!
Then I noticed that it was also someone else’s lucky day. He was not only clicking away with a camera slung around his neck but seemed to be chatting with the swans, too. Interesting!
As I approached nearer, I found the man feeding the swans and their cygnets with grass. Sensing my curiosity he explained, “They do eat grass but not any kind. They must be hand-cut and I’ve just given them dandelions. Try feeding them with that (pointing to the grass on the ground) and they will only spit it out.”
Here’s more: he must have read my mind. “The colour of the beak of the male is dark orange. The female beak is also orange but lighter.
They used to have nine cygnets. One of them died and the other got injured so it was taken away.”
Suddenly, the female swan (now I know) came closer to him. “Okay, you’re still hungry. Here’s some bread.”
I thought, “Oh wow, carbs and veg, good for you swan.”
“I come here everyday”, he continued. I guess my face looks familiar to them. But I would not mess with them during the mating season. The male, especially, can become aggressive. “He hit my hand with his wing once and it put me out of action for four days!”
He then pointed to a heron perched on the concrete in the middle of the pond.
He got amused with the coots trying to grab their share of the bread. He threw in some more. I thought, “carbs and veg, good for you, ducks!”
Finally, I found the chance to ask him his name. ‘Bernie’.
Bernie is an amiable old man. (Even the wild swans took to him, right?) The lines on his face reflect a happy human being.
Not only did he impart valuable ‘swan wisdom’ but also taught me how to identify the variety of birds residing in the pond. More importantly, Bernie gave my photos more meaning.
I have been to this pond several times but today was a chance encounter with a man who has a genuinely good heart. Indeed this was a lucky day! I know I will see Bernie again one of these days. I drove away with a smile.
Here is The second story in one day.
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