This fall, my neighbor, an avid grower of corn, fertilized his backyard garden and pinned black plastic over it. A couple of days later, a few ducks showed up and stayed for the night. He surmised that from above they may have mistook it for a pond.
The next evening more came. And then more. One evening my neighbor counted sixty of them, huddled together, sleeping on the plastic, their bills tucked into their feathers.
Every evening at dusk, they descend in wide circles over the neighborhood in groups of four or five, flying lower and lower, until they’re just above our heads.
My son walks with his strider bike up and down the sidewalk, stopping to point up. “Ga ga,” he calls. That’s his word for duck. Neighbors emerge from their houses. We stand together listening to the ducks call to one another as the sun sets over the Coast Range, and it feels like we’ve bought season tickets to a magnificent show.