Where did they go?
After tromping through the hills of Bonelli Park, we rounded the corner where we had last seen them. On this day, the windswept hillside, nodding with wild grass and buckwheat, was empty. The ducks had all been taken down.
Almost two years ago, we had been charmed by the sight of dozens of rock cairns that dotted the field, climbed the hillside and then back again. Hikers in Southern California sometimes encounter a lone duck in the woods, usually marking a junction. A duck is a minimum of three rocks piled one on top of the other, often with the top rock indicating a direction (a pointer.) But this wonderland of ducks felt more like a whimsical carnival left behind by anonymous hikers. A kind of non-urban graffiti declaring trekkers were here.
Why were they taken down? Clearly the rocks remained in jumbled piles on the ground. I stopped at the park office to see if the ranger knew what happened to the ducks.
The receptionist had trouble understanding the question.
“Cay-runs?” she said. “No, I’ve never heard of them, let me ask.”
“They are on the hillside behind the Playground area on the south side,” I said, “but hidden from the road or the freeway.”
She misunderstood, telling the ranger, “It’s next to the playground…”
“No, it’s on the back of the hill that’s next to the playground.”
Apparently the ranger didn’t hear my interruption because he suggested she call and ask the life-guards. Life-guards? The swimming area is a sandy beach and it would require a two mile climb to see the field.
“And BEHIND the hill,” I said again.
Inquiry failed, receptionist declared the park had nothing to do with the cairns and had no responsibility for them. By then I wondered if she and her boss doth protesteth too much. Not all outdoorsmen approve of ducks because building them can cause a disturbance in nature, albeit a small disturbance. But the message that came through loud and clear was: we know nothing! Nothing!
I didn’t tell them that we had begun rebuilding the cairnfield. Or at least we added one to the singleton someone else had started. If you ask us, then by golly, we know nothing about it!