Tuesday, July 01, 2003

Robert McCloskey, 88, of 'Make Way for Ducklings,' Is Dead
This headline and link to the obituary by Eleanor Bau in the New York Times Online sucked the wind out of me for a moment. Just last Friday, my wife, daughter, and I met for lunch in Boston and then we wandered over to the Public Gardens, where McCloskey's Make Way for Ducklings is set.

We saw the bronze sculpture of Mrs. Mallard and her ducklings honoring McCloskey and his book, and noticed, as we did, a family with toddlers, sitting on the bench across from the sculpture, a new copy of Make Way for Ducklings in Hand, reading from the book, and comparing the illustrations to the sculpture.

We also took a ride around the Public Garden Pond in the Swan paddle boats; as it curved around a small island in the pond, we watched this season's ducklings teeter-waddle about, slipping among rocks, hectically dropping into and out of the pond. And even as we left, a an ice-cream truck was parked on the corner of Boyleston and Arlington Streets, the back of which featured the famed image from the book, of the police officer with a hand held up and whistle blown, stopping traffic so Mrs. Mallard and her ducklings could cross the street and enter the Public Gardens.

So the news comes when thoughts of McCloskey are still fresh because his work was literally alive for us just days ago.

I think maybe we'll head to Maine for some blueberries soon.