Monday, November 24, 2008


Well, here it is less than a month since I began this blog, and already I’m remiss in my self-made promise to post something—even if only a few lines—daily. With Thanksgiving just around the corner, there’s been an unusual spate of grocery shopping and other holiday-related tasks to get done—and, of course, not enough time, energy, or money to accomplish everything in one fell swoop. But that’s no excuse. And neither is the fact that from well before daylight until long after dark, I’ve been working, dashing about, fretting or sulking…and at the end of it too exhausted to do more than tumble into bed somewhere close to midnight. Even today, I ate lunch standing at the kitchen counter. Yet it wouldn’t be honest to claim I wrote nothing because there was nothing of interest to report. The world beyond the windowpane didn’t pack up and leave town for the weekend. The past few days might have been unusually harried, but the lack of material more accurately reflects on my failure to observe—and really, to simply see what was always before my eyes, in plain sight, had I taken time to look. Instead, I got caught up in the mundane to the point of being unaware of, and therefore unresponsive to, the world around me. I certainly couldn’t have asked for more varied weather, since the past few days have given us a bit of everything here along the river. Snow one day—though nothing ever actually stuck for long, even when flakes came down thick and furious and the ground turned temporarily white. The following day was one of brilliant sun. Cold though, with an overnight low of 13 measly degrees…the lowest temperature of this fall-heading-to-winter. Then a day of clouds, and some wind. And finally today, which began in light rain, which became light fog and heavy overcast, before again turning back to rain. About noon, before making run to Sam’s to pick up a turkey and oysters for the dressing, I took a shot or two of the light fog—really, almost a heavy mist—upstream from the cottage. An hour later, having successfully bagged my final ingredients for Thursday’s feast and returned home—I looked out at the same upriver stretch, now without the misty fog, and saw a small flock of mallards feeding in the riffle. Fifteen in all, seven pairs plus an additional drake. Was this odd male a bachelor, widower, or just an unlucky ol’ duck who couldn’t fill his dance card and is doomed to spending the holidays alone? Or perhaps part of a waterfowl ménage à trios? Actually, mallards aren’t to common along this particular stretch of river—at least not during the three years we’ve lived here. More likely to be seen are woodies. And a male wood duck, in full feathered regalia is, in my humble opinion, one of the most astonishingly magnificent birds around. Though the first year we lived here, smack in the middle of winter when the river banks were arctic white and the pool and riffle area directly in front of the cottage was filled pale green water and rimmed with ice, six goldeneyes appeared one afternoon and hung around in the pool for the next couple of days, giving me ample opportunity to watch the three pairs, diving and feeding, for long periods at really close range. And I thought then they were perhaps even prettier than the wood ducks. We also have some semi-resident Canada geese—and several flocks of Canadas which pass over the cottage daily on the way to and from their chosen feeding areas and the shallow pond in the nearby park which they call home. I expect today's mallards might be travelers—for their behavior during the time I watched them certainly struck me as that of wild birds. I do hope they stick around a while. And I'll try and be more faithful to watching and writing...

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