City parks provide, escape, leisure

By Clyde Davis: Local columnist

Wednesday evening, as the storm which never arrived was brewing west of Ned Houk Park, my granddaughter and I were feeding the ducks.

With the careful attention of a five year old, she was dropping pieces of food in the lake, and I was watching the birds.

On shore came a duck, which I realized I had seen before, a medium sized mixture of mallard and black Muscovy, which has been resident here for several years.

This particular duck, wild yet half tame as are all the ducks there, is noticeable for his lame left leg, which hangs uselessly.

The significant aspect of the above paragraph is “ for several years.” There is no way that this duck could have survived on, say, Ute Lake or Conchas Lake.

That he found a place in this world at Running Water Draw (Ned Houk) is, I think, a good thing.

One need not have a background in biology to understand this duck’s lameness is injury, not congenital; any offspring he sires will be as healthy as any other duckling.

I am not an animal sentimentalist. I believe natural selection plays an important part in the circle of life, and am neither vegetarian nor anti-hunter/fisherman. But I do believe we ought to be aware that, in the view of the Creator, each life matters, each creature has a place in the world.

This article is less about biology, though, than it is about the parks which the city supports and enhances.

A couple of weeks ago I got responses, on both sides of the fence, when I raised the issue of public pools.

I’m actually a lot more prone to seeing the glass half full, than half empty, and this article is in that vein.

Our particular family and friends have more enjoyment than I could count from Running Water Draw, and unlike state parks, we do not have to place five bucks in an envelope to do so.

Not that I begrudge the five bucks, but city parks are still free.

My grandkids are learning to fish there, and as most know, the lake is periodically stocked. I enjoy fishing there, too, and we’re all well aware that one can either take a child fishing, or fish oneself, usually not both. Ned Houk is close enough to do both on the same day.

As a decoy carver, I have easy access to a selection of live models which will let me get close enough to watch them. When you’re looking at feather contouring, posturing, attitude, etc., your model doesn’t necessarily have to be the species your are carving.

Finally, our grandkids enjoy the play centers at each of the city parks, not just Ned Houk.

As I watched the storm that never came gather in the west, thinking how beautiful the dark emerald of the field, and the healthy trees, looked in the dramatic light, I gave thanks that, in economic times like this, it costs me nothing to enjoy our city parks.

Clyde Davis is pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Portales and a college instructor. He can be contacted at: