Test 4, Day 2

Day 2, Session 2: South Africa trail by 308 runs with 8 wickets remaining in the 1st innings (Elgar 0, Amla 30)

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Ducks were a big part of our lives growing up. When we visited the Becker family cottages in the upper peninsula of Michigan they were everywhere, swimming up and down the lake shore. My sister and I would watch them swim and put their beaks in the water to catch food and we would feed them crusts of old bread while standing on the rocks in front of the cottages — watching them fight over the scraps while listening to our dad tell us that we were making them too fat to fly south in the winter and that they would freeze to death. Thanks, dad.

One summer we went to a relative’s cottage on the big lake, Lake Michigan, and there my sister and I were amazed as we watch the ducks dive completely under the water to catch food. We watched them for hours out there in the sun drenched big blue chop from a white washed open window as the adults ate lunch and talked about Ronald Reagan and South Africa.

In 1986 we moved to upstate New York and one day each week during the summer our mother would take us kids somewhere. The zoo, a movie, whatever. Just something to get us out of the house and away from the television. If we couldn’t think of something to do we would just go to the swimming beach on Lake Canandaigua, one of the “finger lakes,” five lakes that resembled the fingers on a hand.

It was a busy beach and across the street was a small amusement park with a ferris wheel and a carousel and a water slide. But mostly we just sat on the beach. My mother would read and sunbathe and we would play in the lake and come out to dry off on a towel and eat whatever sandwiches my mother had brought and have a juice box or two.

One day my sister and I waded deep out into the lake, the water coming up to our shoulders. We were close to a group of other kids. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, about a dozen or so ducks came swimming up near us. The other kids started freaking out — ducks! look at the ducks! oh my god ducks! — they were so excited. My sister and I rolled our eyes.

“Not sure what they’re getting so excited about,” my sister said, having to raise her voice over the sounds of the lake. “We see ducks all the time in Michigan.”

“Yeah, no kidding,” I replied.  And we waded back to shore in the dirty brown water to our mother, waiting on the beach, reading her mystery novel, with our little brother, who was playing in the sand and wearing a hat to protect him from the sun, and we dried off in the sun as our swim suits dripped on our mother’s blanket, retrieving our glasses from the safety of her purse, and the whole world sat firmly in the universe, the ground solid under our feet, and the ducks swam off into the deep part of the lake, and my sister and I reveled in our smugness, and we thought about those ducks on the big lake that day in Michigan, diving into the waves over and over again.

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