Today at Duck Pond • Salt Lake Magazine

In the early months of the pandemic lockdown, local filmmaker Trent Harris began documenting his regular trips to visit the duck pond in Sugar House Park. He compiled his observations in a book called Today at the duck pondBelow are some excerpts from the project. This is more than a love story between a man and a duck. There’s also a chicken involved and…Madonna.

duck pond
Trent Harris’s book (complete with his abstract illustrations of ducks), Today at Duck Pond: The Complete CollectionIs available in Ken Sanders Rare Books and online through echocave.net.

Today at the duck pond…
I went to Sugar House Park today and had a long talk with the ducks. Me and the ducks are on the same page, no doubt. So, I have that going for me. I need to get more stuff for myself. Maybe I should get a job? Ah…a lot of people don’t know that ducks never chicken out. I know. It’s one of those things you collect when you sell worms. But besides being brave, ducks also express love and appreciation to humans. They are like dogs in that respect, except that ducks can change their sex. The BBC made a documentary about it. I’m not sure why. But there is a dark side to ducks. They sleep with one eye open, and a 1999 study showed that only half of the duck’s brain was asleep. Ducks are our plucky half-brained friends and they have three eyelids so they can see when they duck into a deep dive. I love ducks.

Today at the duck pond…
I missed my pet chicken, Rosie. We lived together in Los Angeles and she was a good chicken. People don’t know it, but chickens can be very affectionate. She liked to be stroked and I liked to stroke her feathers. When my mother visited me, she would make Rosie cheese toasties. What’s wrong with love between a man and a chicken, as long as it doesn’t go too far? She lived in my backyard in her chicken coop under a Tasmanian fig tree. How romantic. So, there was a big Hollywood party in the backyard and I threw a chair on the barbecue. I had to leave Hollywood and would have taken Rosie with me, but the dog next to her ate her! Now, do you understand why I hate Los Angeles? And why I will never work in that city again, only I never had a job there anyway! Say oh! And the rumors going around about me and Madonna have to stop. Yes, we “knew” each other. But I can’t say more. And yes, there was a time on the beach that, if I could tell you, the universe would just explode. So I won’t. He lived in a house in the hills above Malibu that he bought from Olivia Newton-John. It burned. After that, things were never the same. He seemed distant. Then she dumped Sean and then Sean got really weird and didn’t dress like Olivia anymore. See what I mean! Hollywood! It’s a madhouse!

Today at the duck pond…
There have been reports of a wacko hanging out at the duck pond threatening people. I haven’t seen it, but the son of a bitch better not show up on my watch. The duck pond should be a safe place where ducks and people can get along. Ducks splash around quacking while people take their dogs to poop. It’s like America. What happened to America? I hate people who throw bread into the duck pond. I don’t like to hate. I love spring! I love frogs. I really love chickens and am crazy about ducks. And ants are fascinating. Did you know that a queen ant can live up to 30 years unless some bad guy steps on her or destroys her house? I have a wonderful ant farm, hours of fun. Regardless, as America falls apart, the ducks in the pond gather. They have a plan. It’s an escape plan. I want to go with them but I can’t fly. What happened, America? Even the ducks want to split. We need to get back to normal America! We have to get back on track.

Today at the duck pond…
This guy walks up and says, “do you do your hair with a balloon?” And I say no. Then he asks me if I know where San Francisco is and I say yes. Then he tells me that he is the CEO of a big famous tech company. Then his friend Kenny comes over and asks me for a quarter. So, I gave him a room. Tech Giant and Kenny then head to Mr. Softy’s ice cream truck and a Chevy pulls up to the worst music in the world and a bunch of high school girls get out and they head to the ice cream truck too. Mr. Softy starts yelling at Kenny about something, so Kenny walks over to the trash can and Tech Giant comes back and says, “Get a bunch of girls.” Now Kenny has his head in the dumpster and comes up with a straw hat that is falling apart and puts it on. The girls get back into the Chevy, the raucous music starts, and they drive off. Kenny walks over and says, “Too bad the girls left, I was about to make a move.” I told him, “You’ve got ketchup on your hat.” And Kenny says, “I know, man! I didn’t just fall out of a turnip truck!” Maybe he really should get a job or something.

Today at the duck pond…
I suspect there are agents at the duck pond. There’s a redheaded idiot on a phone and a guy on the hill with some binoculars. And a helicopter whizzed by an hour ago. So I walk over to the idiot on the phone and say, “Portland?” He pretends not to listen to me. So. I say, “Portland, Portland, Portland? Have you ever been to Portland? Then I say “I read you loud and clear, ten four, over and out.” And the guy on the hill starts looking at us with his binoculars. So, I wave and the guy with the binoculars looks away real quick. So I say, “Border Patrol? Sprechen sie Deutsch? And the idiot on the phone says, “What are you talking about? And I whisper: “Don’t mess with the ducks. This is America.” The idiot on the phone quickly walked away. We have to be vigilant.

Today at the duck pond…
I decided to set up the old chessboard on the lawn and wait for a game. The ducks watched. Everything was fine. Then Lucifer the goose approached. I stood up. A lot of people don’t know what a goose can do to a chessboard, but I do. Lucifer looked around him and pretended to be talking to the ducks. I hear the woman yell, “The goose is eating your chess people!” Lucifer flies out into the center of the pond with my white tower in his beak! Then the lady says, “It’s so cute that that goose wants to eat all your chess players.” Then the woman gets a call on her stupid phone and I hear her say, “Oh, I’m taking pictures of weirdos in the duck pond.” I look around for weirdos and see more geese. They come in my direction. I know what you are thinking. I grabbed my tree branch and went after them. The lady took a picture of me chasing the geese around the old chessboard, she got in her car and drove away. Well, I’m getting a job.

Today at the duck pond…
Ducks and beer got me through the virus lockdown. What happened, America? What I’m talking about? Who I am? I was asking the ducks these questions and they just sat there. It doesn’t help. When did the “Land of the free, home of the brave” give way to the Fortress of the fearful and greedy? How come I can’t take the lid off an aspirin bottle? Why are people angry with Mexicans? I like Mexicans. Many ducks and old people go to Mexico in the winter because it is a great place. When my dog ​​died I buried him in the backyard. I put up Christmas lights, I lit candles, I put his necklace in a safe, I put his dog bowl in my special box, I put pictures of him on the wall. It’s been more than 25 years and I still dream about that dog. What happened, America? Where did you go? Do you need a proper burial? Will I dream of America when I’m dead?


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