Interlude: A Mandarin Duck loose in Central Park

A chilled curl of frozen cucumber floats in a lemon and mint vodka. It’s November in New York, but tastes like a spring garden in Napoli. Chaltin puts her drink down and asks, “What duck?” I swirl the single leaf of sage on a cloudy gin now half empty, and show her my phone. “Twitter is going nuts about some duck in Central Park.”

The opera tonight is Mefistofole, but I declare, “In the morning we’re going duck hunting!” Which we do, after a short stack of Rosa Park’s pancakes.

The mandarin is not indigenous to these parts and no one knows how he got here, but people are noticing. He is a star of the autumn season and crowds of paparazzi and amateur photographers crowd the lakes looking for him. What makes him special is that he is gorgeous! Bold complimentary colors, strong geometry, and fine details when you get close. It is a living and breathing course in aesthetics. We find him at ‘the pond,’ and nothing against our equally beautiful native wood duck, but this mandarin was worth the hungover hunt. I love how his back looks like a kabuki mask.

We have a devil of a good time and reward ourselves with a Billy’s cheesecake on a romantic park bench framed with autumn leaves. Intersesting the blog is turning into a rom-com, I request Stanley Tucci to play me in the movie.

The opera Mefistofole is awesome, but this duck deserves his own post as he encapsulates the beauty and novelty I often look to find in the arts. A good reminder to now and then visit beauty at its source.

*Bette Midler just wrote a book about this duck titled The Tale of the Mandarin Duck: A Modern Fable