Monday, August 31, 2015

It's All In the Details

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.


Jenny Woolf said...

What a wonderful place to have so near. And I love how you have really examined all the details. I once went to a wildfowl centre and was amazed at how long I could stand just looking at the different kind of ducks and admiring their beautiful colouring and plumage. Even the rather "ordinary" ones repaid close scrutiny.

I need orange said...

What a great post, Jeannie!

TERRIFIC shots of the ducks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wow! Such nice crisp closeups! Excellent work!!!

I saw plenty of details in your pics that I've never seen before. Ducks are pretty amazing.

Along with you -- I often wonder how ducks [and even smaller birds!] can survive our winters. Mama Nature really knows what she's about!

Agree entirely about how important it is to pay attention. To relish all that is good.

And to speak up, especially when someone is doing something good that may go unnoticed.

Very nice post. :-)

Marilyn Miller said...

Your post was like a meditation. Thanks so much for pointing out the noticing. I had never noticed that a ducks bill alone like sort of like an alligator. Could it be a camouflage? Lovely, lovely photos and thoughts.

Mae Travels said...

Very nice post.

Birdwatchers don't like Mallards because they can find them everywhere. I now say that Mallards (and Robins and Cardinals and a few others) are AMAZING birds because they have adapted to so many environments. How do they do it when other birds can only live in one restricted habitat?

Oh well, I'm a birdwatcher too and like to see the rare ones as much as anyone.

Joanne Huffman said...

As always, a thoughtful post. You are so right about taking the time to notice and observe. (Also, the joy of walking into a good smelling kitchen.) Your photos are a perfect accompaniment to this post.

Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

Once again you've put together a post full of beautiful photos and reflection and gobs of wisdom. I need to be reminded to stop and smell the roses and to appreciate the beauty of the world around me. We live at such a harried pace these days that it is easy to forget to appreciate our surroundings and the people in our lives and to express that appreciation.

Isn't it nice how a compliment like Rick telling you how great the house smells lifts your spirits? That's how I feel when we sit down to eat something I made and Phil makes a point to tell me how good it tastes.

Kitty said...

Your friends have said it all - what a wonderful reminder to recognize and enjoy all of our blessings, especially those we have to look a little harder to find.

anno said...

You're so right: when you're caught up in the throes of life (and all the things that get thrown at you), it's easy to miss all the fabulous nuances. Thanks for the opportunity to savor them, along with your own excellent company -- this was lyrical and lovely.

Becca said...

This was such a lovely meditation on the value of savoring every moment - especially these last summer moments before we move into autumn. If goes by so quickly.

We have so many duck families wandering around here in the condo grounds and ponds. I love watching them.

Sheila da Silva said...

It's all about living in the moment isn't it? Really being present. Not just looking, but seeing. Not just hearing, but listening. The brown ducks have a beauty all their own.

Barb said...

Thanks for these reminders, Jeanie. I've missed your wisdom on my blog break. Glad to see you're still out and about photographing the wonders of Nature. Sorry to hear about your bad back though. I recently read about a blind hiker who walked all 450 plus miles of the Colorado Trail solo with his seeing eye dog for company. How is that even possible? After I read about him, I tried closing my eyes while walking the trail behind our house. I only made it a few steps - too scary!

Arti said...

Beautiful close-up's. I just love the colour of their beaks. That green one reminds me of those rubber rain boots. I'd love to visit your pond one day. :)

Anonymous said...

Yes, we take so many things for granted. We should be more aware of our surroundings -- especially the aroma of your cooking! I'll have a bite! Lol.

Bella Rum said...

You made the right choice. Beautiful pics. Thanks!

Victoria Zigler said...

Very wise words... Well said!

psychelyn said...

The more we pay attention at things, the more we become grateful. The more grateful we become, the happier we are. That's what at least I believe in. This post is very inspiring. I enjoyed seeing those details you've noticed and thank you that you've shared them.

shoreacres said...

You know how I am about my ducks. I love them so, at least partly because they're pretty kindly disposed to humans. They're sociable creatures, among themselves, and they can be persuaded to be pretty good friends if you have regular contact with them.

You're right about the power of their bills. When we had our group of 17 babies, they were "babies" into adulthood, and if they didn't get their food, they'd climb right up into your lap for it. And, if you didn't give it to them fast enough, they knew that those fingers were supposed to have bread -- and they'd clamp down on them! Strong, indeed.

I'm so glad you got to the ditch and brought us such lovely photos. It's been raining here all day, so it was a nice thing to see some sunshine and duck smiles!

Janet said...

Such beautiful photos!! And something for me to think about...all the little details I might miss each day. Thank you for reminding me.

Castles Crowns and Cottages said...

Good morning dearest Jeanie!

School is in full swing, meaning that I have to now wake up at 3:30am to get my emails and blogging done. I never ever want to give this up because it's a joy for me to connect to others and to learn that I'm never alone in my joys difficulties. And this morning, your post connected with yet another discovery about details. Nature is so necessary for many of us to calm ourselves after a hard day or to simply partake in the human experience of inhabiting this amazing planet. I LOVE YOUR DUCKS and how you captured the details. AND they crack me up when they fish, their arses up in the air! HAHAHHHAH

Have a sensational day!

Mary said...

What a beautiful post in so many ways, Jeanie! Lovely photos of beautiful ducks. :). They are perfect creatures, perfectly made. From their marvelous beaks down to their neat webbed feet! And you are right about observing and appreciating the seemingly small things. So important and so much to be grateful for..

Jemma@athomewithjemma said...

Dearest Jeanie,
First off one of my best high school girl friends was named Jeanie and every time I write to you I smile because of you and her! Such a delightful spirit you possess and I love ducks too! Sometimes when I walk they follow me and we have the best conversations:)
Have a lovely afternoon!

~*~Patty S said...

Thank you for the up close and personal pics of those handsome ducks!
I so enjoy taking time to enjoy the details of life.
What a treasure of a place to have so much nature so close to you to enjoy.

J C said...

I love your observation of the ducks. So many people don't notice the beauty of the gifts Mother Nature has given us, whether it be human or animal. You have voiced this issue. Thanks for this thoughtful post.

Beate said...

This is a beautiful post, Jeanie! I'm hoping for your friend's full recovery. And you are right, in every day life we take things for granted but it is important for us to stop and be grateful for the things we have and are able to experience!
I love all the duck pictures, they are such sweet beautiful animals :)
More hugs to you,

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