After living in my condo complex for over two years, I finally took Molly Poodle down for her “outings” in the back yard. I got the chance because Buddy the Snowbird Cockapoo currently resides in California. When he stays here, Buddy runs off-leash on the long stretch of grass beside the ocean. When Molly sees Buddy from the lanai or when she is on her leash, she flips out, literally. She barks, leaps and loses her mind.
To avoid confrontation, I took Molly out front. She had the run of the many large grassy plots under massive banyan trees and the asphalt parking lot, alongside the busy thoroughfare. The moment I heard Buddy left, I got Molly on the prime turf.
Molly and I walked through the gate and stepped on to the luxuriant lawn. I led her to the wall overlooking the ocean and breathed in the salt air. As I was lost at sea, Molly started whining and jumping on her leash. I glanced to where she was looking. Thirty feet down, a large gray and white Muscovy duck stood straight, its head swiveling and tail feathers twitching. I pulled Molly back out the gate.
When I asked Mike from the maintenance crew, he said the duck appeared “out of the blue.” The head of maintenance, Roland, found the bird cowering under a bush. He fed, watered, and named it Nelson. Ailing Nelson gained his strength and imprinted himself on Roland. The seaside back lawn is now Nelson’s domain. No dogs invited: Buddy beware.
Nelson has become a condo celeb, a tourist attraction, a mascot. He is the topic of conversation in the elevator and at the reception desk. I have seen vacation renters throw food to him from upper lanais. A plate and bowl now sit as permanent offerings near the gate. I took Molly down, hoping to co-exist. Molly charged into the bushes and sent the duck flapping. “Hey, there’s a bird in there!” someone yelled from above me.
I have seen Nelson take wing, fly a wide circle over the bay, and land back on his grass strip. Mike told me that the crew has twice captured the duck, driven him to the humane society; each time, Nelson found his way back. I don’t know what will happen when Buddy returns, unleashed. For now, Nelson owns the backyard. My idea of Molly and I taking walks by the sea, on the salt-infused expanse of green lawn: one more thing I let go.
Update: The crew took Nelson to an adopt-a-duck program. Unless/until he returns (from what I understand, ducks imprint on humans for life), we enjoy our moment.