So, I was eating lunch down at Lake Union near where I worked. There’s a little park, Waterway 15, right next to Ivar’s there. It’s a narrow little park sloping directly down to the water where there’s a spot to launch a kayak or canoe, and a few benches to look out at the lake. On the west side of the parklet there’s a set of docks harboring a large fishing boat, like you might imagine setting out from Dutch Harbor toward dark, ferocious seas. Across the water, houseboats lining the shore toward South Lake Union and the jagged cityscape. If I balanced on the rocks toward those docks, or waded out into the lake I could make out parts of Queen Anne around the big boat and all it’s equipment as well.
I took my lunch there often. The water lapped up onto the pebbles bringing litter and occasional treasures. Ducks swam and fed and preened. Geese came and went, gulls and pigeons and crows as well. It was a peaceful respite from work. This time I’m describing, it was a grey, late autumn day, the wind was up. I sat down with my sandwich, carrots, water bottle, and a baggie with a couple cookies. I was about twelve or fifteen feet from the water’s edge.
I was lost in thought sitting there. I don’t remember what was weighing on me, but I remember that by the time I’d noticed the birds it was too late, I’d not been paying attention to my surroundings. I was sitting cross-legged on the paved ground. An older couple sat on a bench closer to the water over to my left. Some ducks and a big Canada Goose had come ashore to investigate me as I sat there oblivious. The big goose came closer to me, and that’s when I realized I was surrounded. The goose, three mallard ducks, two gulls, and two crows had circled me, They were all within an arm’s reach of me and my sandwich and my little picnic. At the same instant I realized this, that big old Canada Goose took another step, reached out its long neck and made a grab for the sandwich in my left hand. I yanked it away, but as I did that, one of the gulls behind me made its own attempt. With my attention on my sandwich, two of the ducks quickly came forward on my right and both seemingly in concert attempted to steal my cookies, one of them actually grabbing them and dragging them away a foot or so before losing grip. I waved my hand at that one and yelled “Hey!” That couple on the bench stared blankly at me. The goose came back for another attempt at my sandwich. The crows cawwed loudly. I yelled again, “Come on!” and pulled the sandwich in tight to my body, as I stood up.
The crows lit off. Then the gulls. The three ducks backed up but didn’t leave. The goose just stood there looking at me like one our customers standing at the door staring in at eight minutes to opening.
I took a step toward the goose and yelled, “Go away!” waving my arm at it, and it backed up, flapping its wings, then turning and waddling toward the water. The ducks did so as well. The couple on the bench were smiling now as they watched. How quickly things can turn, I thought.