Tuesday, October 27, 2009

SECOND HELPING

The sky is a blanket of pale gray clouds. After two days of brilliant blue, the overcast seems darker than it is, a pall slipped over the landscape. And yet…this shadowless veil has the counter-intuitive effect of making colors richer, more saturated, as if the gain had been increased by giving the color-intensity knob a hefty clockwise crank.
As is my normal routine, I began the morning well before daylight—sitting at my desk with a mug of steaming coffee, peering into the thick blackness beyond the study window and waiting for the river to slowly appear like a ghostly vein below the sub-dermal layer of darkness. This will be the last week of Daylight Savings Time. Good riddance! Enough with governmental meddling! Allow the time to be what it is, what feels "natural."
Sure, I understand this system of measurement is something devised by man, invented for our comfort and convenience. Night and day divided into twenty-four one-hour increments, themselves each divided into sixty minutes, with another sub-division of minutes into sixty seconds. One turn of the earth all chopped up into neat little pieces. As if such a formal imposition might really matter.
The relationship seems more natural to me if the pattern of light and dark is allowed to mirror the rhythm of the seasons as I first encountered them. The sudden relocation of dusk and dawn when Daylight Savings Time takes over in the spring, and departs in the fall, does nothing for me except muck up my prototype rhythm of season and time so deeply ingrained from childhood. Back then, October daylight arrived an hour earlier; so did dusk. That still feels natural to me. So I say again…good riddance!
Unfortunately, I don't think I can blame the behavior of my adopted ducks on time-change. Whatever form of alarm clock ducks employ for their morning wake-up, it is simply set to early. As in too-dark-to-see early. Not that darkness hampers their feeding capabilities. Maybe ducks have built in thermal imaging…or are hiding little pairs of night-vision goggles under their wings. Whatever. When they decide it's time for breakfast—which happened about 6:21 EDST this morning—they paddle up from their usual night berth a hundred yards downstream, dock themselves just off my riverbank steps and within easy corn-tossing range of the front deck, and quack loud enough to wake the dead…or any sleeping neighbors for blocks around.
This is not, I must reemphasize, a standard mild-mannered park-pond duck quack. We're talking QUACK! QUACK! QUACK! Part Canada goose, part trumpeter swan, with bit of air-horn from those clown cars at the circus. Loud. Obnoxious. Bleating. Demanding. FEED US! FEED US! FEED US!
Naturally, I dash out and sling them their measure of cracked corn forthwith, before anyone starts shooting. A slave to ducks. What an ignominious position for a dignified nature scribbler, and proof once again that no good deed goes unpunished…
Long after my panhandling waterfowl have breakfasted, morning arrives—not via light flooding over the eastern horizon, but by light which simply sneaks in here, there, and everywhere, like mildew in a closet, until there comes a moment when you realize you can see shape and color. I pluck the camera from the desk and step outside, careful to remain hidden from the ducks' view.
The river is beautiful in the soft light—water the color of dark jade, bankside vegetation a study in gold and orange, tan and russet, yellow, green, and some small plant upstream that shows a dark shade of ox-blood Cabernet. A lone turkey vulture wings slowly overhead.
I love days such as this, love their cloistered feel, love the way some hues are muted and others seem to glow as if lit by an inner light. Life is so wondrous, so lovely…so precious. No day should ever be wasted.
"Com'on, ducks," I said, loud enough so's the paddling pair on the nearby pool could hear my voice. I stepped out from behind the tree and headed toward the corn bin. "Com'on and have a second helping!"

24 comments:

The Weaver of Grass said...

A slave to your ducks? I should think so Scribe. I do hope you don't have things like foxes who might prey on them during the winter nights to come. Next thing you will be building them a bijou shed complete with straw. Do we know their sex? Might there be the patter of tiny webbed feet come Spring?
I do so agree about daylight saving - why do they have to mess around with it all. The birds get up with the sun (or just before) and go to bed with it - they don't even know it is Tuesday today and yet they manage very well. Still this imposition of time is called progress. Have a lovely evening on that beautiful river of yours.

KGMom said...

I need some soul restoring beauty now--and your pics did the trick for me.
I am tired, for some reason. So if I sit a spell by your river bank, just let me be. I will even feed the ducks for you, if you like.

Lynne at Hasty Brook said...

Glad to know those little white ducks have you on a short leash...

Will your Turkey Vultures stay all winter? Mine are gone until spring. I'm hoping to get my TUVU fix here over the looong winter.

Scott said...

Scribe,

You've always got at least one great line in your posts. Today's was "...waiting for the river to slowly appear like a ghostly vein below the sub-dermal layer of darkness." What an image.

And, to answer the question you posed in your reply to my last comment, I'm formally "following" Riverdaze on my list of blogs, so I'm a "regular" visitor. I used to live in Ohio and, while I now live in the Mid-Atlantic, I'm still captivated by the Buckeye State--and especially its water.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Weaver…

Au contraire! Foxes—red and gray—and coyotes, not to mention free-roaming dogs, possibly the ambitious cat. Maybe even a big red-tailed hawk. And teenage Homo sapiens who think it's great fun to lob fist-sized rocks at a couple of white ducks floating innocently on their home pool. Danger aplenty.

I have not discussed sex with my ducks—and prefer the "don't ask, don't tell" policy, to be quite honest. They act like a couple, but more than that would be mere speculation. They did adopt and have now raised a female mallard duckling who lost her mother soon after their (the white ducks) arrival. For all I know, though, they could be a couple of old bachelor drakes with a nurturing streak. I'm not opposed to the patter of tiny webbed feet. Little ducks quack me up.

I would build them so sort of overnight quarters if they seemed agreeable to such an arrangement. So far, however, they won't even come up the bank for their corn. I have no idea what I (or they) will do when the season's first high water comes along…though if they fail to act quickly, their next breakfast stop may be New Orleans.

Whenever I hear the word "progress" I immediately go on high alert. Progress is a code word of politicians. Nothing outlined after the word progress is spoken is trustworthy—in fact, it is apt to be destructive, costly, and restrict my freedom in some evil, underhanded manner. Progress is stuff getting paved over, fenced in, taken away and turned into cash in someone else's pocket.

I'd like to thump progress in the head with an oak stick! :-)

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

KGMom…

The river as palliative…a use I put it to often.

Come sit. I'll let you be after giving you a bucket of corn and making introduction to the ducks. (Marrying off a daughter is tough work, eh?)

madcobug said...

I enjoy your entry and pictures. I hope the ducks will stay safe. Helen

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Lynne…

Not all that little, my ducks. Rather portly, and incapable of flight so far as I know—though whether from breeding or some other factor (such as possessing the aerodynamics and lift capabilities of an anvil) I can't say.

Nope on those TVs. Sometime really soon—days? weeks?—my beloved buzzards will depart for warmer climes, where road kills bloat to tasty perfection on warm asphalt, and roost tree do not shed their leaves, exposing ones sleeping quarters to prying eyes.

But fear not, I have pix aplenty…and I'm taking more daily. I'll try and keep you from going into too fierce withdrawal.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Scott…

We Buckeyes to tend to go a'wandering. And I know what you mean about our waters—and especially for me, the streams. Ohio's rivers and little creeks weave a silver strand through my life—their quiet, pastoral beauty is something I carry with me always, having fallen for them wholeheartedly as a youngster. Love endures.

I saw you'd signed up as a follower. Welcome, and thank you. I hope you find lots to enjoy on this riverbank.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Helen…

I hope so, too. And I'll do what I can to insure their well-being.

(I thought about saying: "I won't duck the issue." But I'm too dignified for such frivolity. No, honest I am. Really.)

Lisa said...

Please go to my blog if you get a chance. I have given you an award. I hope that you will accept it and that it was OK to nominate your blog. I absolutely understand if you cannot take the time to do the challenge. I was close to not doing it. If you don't accept it, just know that I love your blog and hope I have more time this winter to visit it.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Lisa…

I have no problem answering the questions—but not sure about passing the task along to six additional bloggers. Let me think about it a bit first, okay? I certainly appreciate the nice words from you, however.

Anyway, give me a bit of time…

Jenn Jilks said...

What a lovely beginning to the day!

I was shocked this evening. I saw a hunter go across the lake in his bright orange gear. Then, just before total dusk, I heard a shot. I simply cannot understand it. It breaks my heart.

Lovely images, both visual and linguistic.

I'm shutting doors and windows.

TheChicGeek said...

Hello Scribe :) I love, love, love your pictures today. The two ducks in the pond and the angle they are sitting is precious.

A duck slave....hmmmmmmm? Lucky ducks :)

Have a Happy Day, Scribe :D

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Jenn…

Thank you. The river is always a good place to start a day or a mood or a question.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

ChickGeek…

A life most fowl, indeed! :-))

And for veracity's sake, those quackers with the imploring looks are not on a pond but the river, at the foot of the stone steps beside my deck—their feeding spot.

Bernie said...

Well if you aren't an English teacher in this life you were in the previous one, you do have a talent for writing my friend.
So happy you gave the ducks a second helping but oh the ducks and you get up way too early for me.
Have a great day my friend...:-)Hugs

Jayne said...

A slave to the ducks...lolol. :c)

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Bernie…

My father was, for the first half of his professional life, a teacher—and many of my uncles were teachers and educators—but "parts of speech" and "diagraming sentences" always bored the socks off me. Literature I liked; English…well I read books during English classes.

Until 10-15 years ago, I used to sit up all or or most of the night, go to bed about daylight, sleep maybe four hours, five tops, and be up and at 'em for another round. That changed, and I don't really know why. Now I'm in bed before midnight, sleep until 5:30-6:30 a.m., get up.

Ducks, I'm amazed to report, are apparently early birds.

Who wudda thunk?

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Jayne…

And dark chocolate…and brook trout…and about a hundred other things. An otherwise good life, ruled by weak will and circumstance. Oh woe is me!

(Cut to the violin music.)

Gail said...

HI GRIZZ-

I love that you have adopted the ducks and that theyt know where home is, where food is and where they will be heard!!! :-)

Your pictures are so beautiful, peaceful and inviting. And I,like you, agree that the time should stand as it is intended - not adjusted to save electricity or whatever. I am thrilled we are' Falling Back'-......

I so enjoy your mornings and days - your pictures and wonderful words streamed together to allow me in to your world - your mind - your heart.

Love to you
Gail
peace.....

Anna said...

These are beautiful images. Yes it is getting darker here. Today was the first sunny morning this week, but then overcast again. But you know you are so right no day should be wasted. I do to love darker days, usually let me relax more, since sun sometimes pounds me with too much energy. Very relaxing post, and thanks for sharing your thoughts, love the dissection you did about time. Anna :)

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Gail…

Sorry to be slow in getting your comment up. I've been a bad blogger recently.

I've had my head buried in work all of today and as much as I could yesterday…and the rest of yesterday was spent getting out, walking a bit, going to Walt's visitation and service.

I've always though DST was a silly way to handle time. I understand the reasoning, just don't like the fact that governments seem to think adults simply can't managed to switch between summer and winter hours for businesses and jobs. After all, Daylight Savings Time does not CREATE or REMOVE one single second of time. The earth still spins. The sun rises and sets. My ducks will not make the time change—and didn't in the spring; they'll be hungry and ready to breakfast come first light. DST is just a silly contrivance, and insulting.

I'm glad you liked the photos and post. It's still pretty here along the river—though the leaves are falling madly. But pretty, nonetheless.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Anna…

Darker here, too. And cloudy now, though most of the day was sunny.

I always work better on darker days. Though I also have to fight the urge to curl up with a book. If such a thing is possible, I seem simultaneously more relaxed and energized. (Okay, that;s probably crazy.)

Glad you enjoyed the post.