Ducks Versus Puddles (Round 1)

James Proclaims (4)

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A couple of notes before I begin:

  1. This post is notionally about ducks, but really it’s more about geese. And a tiny bit about swans. Essentially it’s about the birds that live on the Thames, or the bit of the Thames that goes through the town of Reading. I think the collective name for such birds is waterfowl. But I tend to call them ducks, even though only a few of them are actually ducks. 
  2. It’s also about puddles, so the above picture seemed an appropriate choice. But, even though cartoon ducks (and those plastic ducks that some people have in the bath) are often yellow, I’ve never seen a yellow duck in real life. Do such creatures exist?
  3. I’ve never seen a white duck either, like Donald and the other Disney Ducks. Or Beatrix Potter’s ‘Jemima Puddle-Duck’. In fact, to my mind, Jemima Puddle-Duck looks more like a goose, and I just assumed that ‘Puddle-Duck’ was an affectionate, antiquated, name for a goose. But I googled it and it’s not; there are such things as Puddle-Ducks and they are white ducks, I just happen to not ever have seen any in real life. Which brings me back to my question about yellow ducks. Actually I could just google that too… 
  4. Although this post is about puddles and ducks, it isn’t about Jemima Puddle-Duck. We’ve dealt with her and she won’t be mentioned again.

When I partake in my thrice weekly run, I go out at ‘stupid o’clock’. ‘Stupid o’clock’ can be defined as somewhere between 5am and 6:30am. Usually it’s before 6am. I go out early. I do this mainly because there are fewer people around at that time. Because they are mostly still tucked up in bed. Which is where I’d rather be. But my desire to stay in bed is currently being out-voted by my desire to get fitter. This tends to be a temporary state of affairs in my world and I’m making the most of this current inclination towards self-improvement, so I get up at ‘stupid o’clock’ three times a week and go out for what I refer to as a run, but what many others would probably refer to as a plod. I don’t like running when other people are around because I’m not yet at the stage in my running where I feel comfortable. It’s not a vanity thing, I don’t possess a lot of dignity when I run, but few people do. It’s more that I find running so utterly joyless that it’s all I can manage to keep going most of the time. I don’t need obstacles and other people do tend to get in the way. It’s worse at the moment, because with the gyms all closed, a lot of people have taken to going out running. But at ‘stupid o’clock’ in the morning there are only a small number of intrepid souls out and about. Including yours truly.

So mostly I get to run without anyone getting in the way. Sometimes I seem to time my run at roughly the same time as the man from the council is out in his little van emptying the bins along the Thames path. This is less than ideal as, obviously being in a van he goes faster than me, but he also stops a lot to empty the bins. So it’s a weird mile or so of me overtaking him and then him overtaking me. He never actively gets in my way so it’s more of an unwelcome distraction than anything.

No, it’s mainly an obstacle free course at that time in the morning. Except for the geese. They get in the way. A lot.

The ducks don’t, they mainly stay in the river. The swans are also quite considerate. But the geese, in quite large numbers, tend to congregate on sections of the Thames path, leaving me with something of a conundrum. Do I run towards them and trust that they’ll oblige and get out of my way? I’m not the fastest runner, but I’m a fairly large person. I imagine, to a goose, the sight of me running towards them would be akin to a tractor moving towards me. I’d have plenty of time to consider my options but none of those options would include waiting for the tractor to arrive at the space I’m currently occupying. But the geese, in general, don’t seem that bothered by my presence. Or at least not especially fearful. And I don’t know if you’ve ever met a goose, but they are quite frightening. They move around in packs (I suppose technically flocks) and they resemble, to my early morning eyes, the velociraptors off of ‘Jurassic Park’. And they hiss. Quite aggressively. They’re really not very nice.

So I tend to alter my course to avoid them. Which I can’t help but feel does throw me off my stride a little.

Recently though, the weather has been a little less clement. I’ve woken up at ‘stupid o’clock’ to find that it’s raining. On such days, any sensible person would decide that outdoor exercise is a bad idea and return to the comfort of their bed. But, as previously mentioned, I hate running. So running in the rain is not especially any less appealing than running when it’s not raining. I’ve completed a few runs in conditions that some would describe as ‘nice weather for ducks’. I’m not sure if the ducks really have a preference for the rain over other meteorological conditions, but the geese do seem to behave differently. I wouldn’t say the path is clear of geese, but more of them seem to remain in the river on such days. Which means I encounter fewer feathered fences to hurdle.

So you’d think I’d go faster on such days. But alas, in place of the geese, I find numerous puddles. And they are also a hindrance. Because, while some puddles are insignificant, some are akin to small lakes and it’s harder to run around the larger puddles than it is to run around a goose.

Or course puddles don’t tend to be quite as aggressive as the geese, and they don’t hiss at me, so I can run through them without fear of being attacked. But it’s easier said than done. I’m sure more able runners, those who are solely focussed on improving their personal best, would run straight through a large puddle without a care in the world, but I’m still at a point in my running when such disregard for common sense is alien to me. Because it’s human nature to avoid puddles. So where I can I do and when I can’t, and I have to traverse the offending quagmire, I do so as delicately as possible. Which rather slows me down.

And while none of my running times are yet worthy of any kind of boasting, I’d have to say that, on balance, when my primary obstacle is puddles rather than geese, I tend to record slower times.

So, in the category of ‘Hindering Me While I Run’, puddles would have to be declared the winner.

Puddles take round 1.

But it’s not over, ducks and associated waterfowl still have a chance to level the series.

Tune in next time (whenever that is) to see if they manage to do just that.

  33 comments for “Ducks Versus Puddles (Round 1)

  1. June 23, 2020 at 9:41 am

    You wait until the puddles start laying eggs. They get very protective of their young and can be really rather aggressive. Or is that geese?

    Baby ducks, for the record, are yellow and I have seen white ducks. Admittedly only on farms or in shops so it’s possible that they don’t exist in the wild.

    Liked by 3 people

    • June 23, 2020 at 9:45 am

      I knew about the baby ducks, but it’s often fully grown ducks that are depicted as yellow. Anyway I googled it and they do exist, I just thought I’d neglect to mention that I’d found the answer in my post…

      Liked by 3 people

  2. June 23, 2020 at 11:21 am

    Geese are extremely territorial, so invade their puddles at your peril. And yes, pure white ducks exist. We had one as a pet years ago , his name was Oscar and he used to attack his reflection in my husband’s brand new black sports car. He was cute, but not very bright…

    Liked by 2 people

    • June 23, 2020 at 12:03 pm

      I’m definitely of the view that ducks are nicer than geese

      Liked by 2 people

  3. June 23, 2020 at 1:07 pm

    A plod, you say? Then I do applaud you! (I apologize for that comment, but it’s stupid o’clock here as I write this so I couldn’t come up with anything else.)

    Liked by 2 people

    • June 23, 2020 at 1:19 pm

      It’s better than anything I could manage at stupid o’clock

      Liked by 1 person

  4. June 23, 2020 at 1:42 pm

    Canada Geese mingle with the other waterfowl here and never fly south in winter anymore. Blame the littering humans. The geese are…well territorial is an understatement. If they have babies in tow, even more so.

    Also I just received a “running joke” this morning in WhatsApp. I’m going to hurl it into the internet later. 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    • June 23, 2020 at 1:44 pm

      I look forward to the joke. There are a lot of baby geese (goslings?) around at the moment so they are particularly hostile, but yes, territorial is definitely an understatement.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. June 23, 2020 at 2:05 pm

    Nice blog

    Liked by 2 people

  6. June 23, 2020 at 4:59 pm

    My son raises ducks and also has a couple of geese which make very excellent guard dogs. Your description of them as velociraptors is pretty much spot-on. I have had a couple of run-ins with supposedly domesticated geese and they will demand respect.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. June 23, 2020 at 5:44 pm

    “ducks and associated waterfowl still have a chance to level the series”- haha I look forward to seeing that!

    Liked by 1 person

    • June 23, 2020 at 6:59 pm

      As well you might – it’s going to be quite the contest…

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Bear
    June 23, 2020 at 6:32 pm

    Honk if they want you to go faster?

    Liked by 1 person

    • June 23, 2020 at 7:00 pm

      I think they just want me to hiss off…

      Liked by 1 person

  9. June 23, 2020 at 8:17 pm

    I have seldom encountered ducks, geese or swans whilst running (especially as they tend to waddle quicker than I) but I have often taken a tern for the worse… I’ll get me coat.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. June 23, 2020 at 8:19 pm

    I’ve never seen a yellow duck either. Not at sensible o’clock or stupid o’clock. My mum keeps geese which eat the number plate of my car every summer.

    Liked by 1 person

    • June 23, 2020 at 8:44 pm

      I’m starting to believe that geese are actually just evil

      Like

      • June 23, 2020 at 8:58 pm

        They are! My mum lives on a farm and uses them as guard geese as nobody would dare set foot on the property without being hissed at and pecked.

        Liked by 1 person

  11. June 23, 2020 at 9:33 pm

    Step one; If its raining, slope back to bed. If you must trudge out, step lightly around the puddles, dodge the waterfowl, but if you see a storm troop of flocking geese- duck for cover. (Sorry , it’s early, only about shit o’clock out here in the Antipodes.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • June 23, 2020 at 9:44 pm

      We’re all a little mallardroit at the quack of dawn

      Liked by 1 person

      • June 24, 2020 at 12:37 pm

        You could just do gardening instead to get fitter. Then you won’t have to worry about geese. Unless you live on a riverbank, of course…

        Liked by 1 person

      • June 24, 2020 at 12:49 pm

        Gardening is really hard though…

        Like

  12. June 23, 2020 at 11:21 pm

    Geese are terrifying.

    Liked by 1 person

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