I haven't been to the ditch in some time. I guess when given the choice of a walk to the ditch (after the first six blocks the lower back and left hip/IT band are not happy campers) or a swim in the pool (highly recommended by the back doc) the pool tends to win out. But on a day where the weather was looking to be dicey, I opted for the ditch, hoping for a Harry sighting.
No heron, alas. But it was still a lovely mid-morning, the sky still blue, warm but not hot, a tad humid and a light breeze (later that day I did go to the pool -- and got rained out!). I meandered around the perimeter, observing a solo duck far in the middle of the big pond...
...and a group of ducks at rest in the third pond. They were enjoying a calm Sunday morning as well and weren't in the least disturbed by my visit.
Their calm gave me a chance to really take a closer look at these beautiful creatures. So often we look at simple brown ducks as pretty muted creatures without much color.
The males, of course, might be a bit brighter with a splash of color on the head, but still, compared to some of the flashier birds, they have less pizazz. Or, so it would seem. But take a closer look.
Their beaks are remarkable, a nice mix of bright yellow with black markings. I'm not sure I'd want my finger caught in that bill!
And I am fascinated by their feet. Look at the details of the webbing and the brilliant coloring. No wonder they can paddle so well.
And don't think those plain-Jane brown ducks are simply brown with flecks of white. Most of them have some coloring on their side -- generally a dark blue or blackish blue that seems to come alive in the sun.
Even the markings on their heads are precise. All in all, these ducks are rather amazing creatures.
I've been fortunate to catch the ducks at the ditch in all sorts of weather -- lovely days like this one and the frigid cold ones where the ponds are all but covered in ice and only a small area of rushing water manages to give them a bit of a drink. I'm often surprised that they survive the winter.
But nothing makes me happier than to discover them at rest or at play on a lovely, late summer day, simply enjoying their space, aware but casually ignoring the interloper in their midst.
Recently a friend had a detached retina. This is an extremely scary thing for anyone but for him there were other implications, for he is a painter and photographer. His eyes are a part of what he does, how he creates. The thought of anything happening to his eyes (and one of the consequences of this can be loss of sight) make the whole thing even more frightening. (So far, the results have been good and a full recovery is expected.)
I also thought of Rick's bike riding friends Nino and Marie. They can't see with their eyes, but they "see" with their ears, noses and fingertips. They could probably tell me things I never knew or noticed about the spaces I might be in.
Having the quiet moment to observe these ducks reminded me of Mike and Nino and Marie and the importance of not taking what we have for granted. Listening to the different birdsong, seeing the details in a flower or an architectural structure, taking note of the wonderful smells that you find when you walk into a house and bread is baking in the oven or a rich pasta sauce on the stove. Seeing the subtle coloring of a pet or noticing the sky.
And, perhaps more important, noticing the little things about the people around you. Are their moods changing, are they holding back tears, waiting for you to ask them about their day instead of just telling you about theirs? Are they struggling with something they need to talk about -- or simply have help with? Are they wearing something new or look especially nice? And most of all, do you tell them?
It's so easy to walk in our own worlds, lost in our own thoughts, agendas, plans, joy or anger. Sometimes we only see what is in our heads -- not in front of our eyes or under our fingertips.
The other night I had a pork tenderloin and baked potatoes in the oven, sweet corn on the stove, a bottle of red wine just uncorked. Rick walked in and said "It smells so good in here." I had been cooking so long I barely noticed.
Those ducks remind me to notice. We are so lucky we can.
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