Judging by the overcast sky and an awful lot of decades of looking upwards and trying to decide how the day ahead is going to shape up, my weather forecasting intuition says gray, gray, and more gray.
A quick check of the National Weather Service site bears out the hunch. Of course yesterday evening, when Rich, friend and fellow father-in-law (his son, my daughter) and I planned a photo outing, the official prediction was partially sunny. Partially sunny is better, photographically speaking, than gloomy gray. Especially in winter when the most recent snow has mostly melted and and what you're left with is a landscape of dank, dismal, brown. Flat light and dull wads of leaves and dreary tufts of grass aren't especially photogenic.
On the positive side, the current temperature is 32˚F and set to rise another ten degrees. Which eliminates any worry of freezing my derriére off—though it all but assures the likelihood I will slip in the slick mud and fall on that aforementioned derriére, muddying myself up in the process. Not an unfamiliar scenario.
A few minutes ago I heard a large flight of geese pass over the cottage. It sounds like the string I saw a several evenings ago, heading in the opposite direction, probably to wherever it is they bed down for the night. A "guesstimate" count put that bunch at 200 birds, give or take. That's a pretty big flight for around here—though a few years ago, when I spent a week in western Kansas proving ringneck pheasants do not exist in that state, in spite of what the tourism boards claim, I watched flight after flight of Canada geese that could easily have numbered ten times the number passing overhead this morning. You could see those huge flights coming several miles away, starting as nothing more than a dark smudge on the distant horizon. A wild and wondrous sight which filled me with awe no matter how many times per day it happened. When those geese were on the wing and heading my way, pheasants were forgotten; I only wanted to stand and gape, watching that smudge turn into dots and the dots into birds, hearing their distant cries, listening and watching as sounds grew louder and the great flight drew ever closer. Those gees were worth the trip.
While it will be years before Canada goose numbers hereabouts ever approach those I saw in Kansas—if it ever happens, given Ohio's increasing urbanization—the ducks on my river seem to be on an upswing. At least my flock of mallards has gone from fewer than a dozen birds to something over twice that in a few short weeks. If this were stock market, I'd be bullish on ducks. Moreover, I'm hoping this burgeoning flock can help me with a little clean-up problem. You see during the recent days of snow, when I went out in the morning and tossed the day's ration of cracked corn for the ground feeders—ducks included—some of the broken grains inevitably disappeared into the snow…out of sight, out of mind. Now that the snow has suddenly melted, however, the ground where I did the feeding is covered with corn—unsightly and apt to mould if it remains too long in the damp. I believe it is a situation ideally suited to hungry ducks, plenty of free eats for the pecking.
So, as Rich and I head off to see what sort of creative photography we can manage, we'll see how well those freeloading ducks handle their responsibility.