My opportunities to look for change or something out of the ordinary have increased in recent weeks.
One of the nice things about going on vacation is getting to see sites that one ordinarily would not get to.
During an excursion to an oceanfront area in North Carolina last month I saw things that I would not generally encounter - an expanse of water so large one cannot see the opposite shore, crashing waves, different types of wildlife, and sea shells of all shapes, sizes and colors.
Unfortunately vacations only last so long before it is time to head home to the commonplace things to which one has grown accustomed. Not that I was expecting it to have changed dramatically, but Hannibal was pretty much how I remembered it when I returned after two weeks.
Evidence of change, or the lack thereof, might be more evident to me than it is to the average Hannibalian. Why? Because frequently I am on foot, which makes it much easier to detect differences in an area than it is for someone who is driving 25 mph or more and, Heaven forbid, is trying to check their email or send a text message.
My opportunities to look for change or something out of the ordinary have increased in recent weeks. It started a couple of Fridays ago when I woke up early and decided to take a walk before getting ready for work. Because that exercise seemed to lessen the intensity of the hand tremors I deal with daily, I expanded the practice of walking to every morning, even though my early treks are generally not as long as my post-workday excursions.
Usually my morning jaunts follow one of the three or four regular routes I take in the afternoon, ranging in distance from a few tenths of a mile to over two miles. The route I take generally is determined by factors such as weather conditions, temperature and how much time I have.
During my first full week of morning walks a few sights became commonplace. There were two little girls of about elementary school age that I regularly saw. While I thought it odd they would be up so early, I didn’t have the courage to ask them why they were out and about, fearing that having a stranger strike up a conversation might alarm the children or, worse, their parents. The reason behind their appearance at about the same time each morning became apparent one day when I saw them climb aboard a school bus, which I assumed was taking them to summer school.
Another person whose early-day routine seems to match mine was that of a neighbor, Harold. More often than not I would see him seated on his front porch, or one day wrapping up a walk of his own. I would always slow my pace, exchange pleasantries, before throttling up once again.
Although not seen on a daily basis, not totally unexpected was the sight of people doing yard work, especially as the heat began to build late last week. There were also people out for jogs or bike rides. A roofing crew, striving to beat the heat, was up bright and early working on a Broadway house.
My biggest out-of-the-ordinary sighting occurred Thursday morning as I walked along St. Mary’s Avenue. While not an avid birdwatcher, I can recognize the sounds of robins, cardinals, crows and pigeons. But what I heard that day was totally unexpected.
I looked skyward after hearing a “quack.” What I saw were two low-flying ducks. Following their flight path led me to the silhouette of a third duck that was standing on the roof of a two-story house. A “quack” by the creature confirmed that I was not hallucinating.
While it is not uncommon to encounter waterfowl on the riverfront, I could never remember having seen a duck perched on a house. What made the sighting even more unusual was the fact that on my return walk some 15 minutes later the bird was still there.
For a guy who looks for things out of the ordinary, a rooftop duck was definitely something I did not expect to see.
The views expressed in this column are not necessarily those of the Courier-Post.