Sunday, October 6, 2013

What the Duck?

Dill Like Fireworks
Full-Time Mowers
View From the Apple Tree
Duck and Turtles
Drowning Fish?
Gobbling Fish
My fingers smell like dill pickles. It's another true-blue day on Elmira Pond, as if the sky has decided to be my best friend. Knowing such days are rare, I stay outside to accept the gift of friendship. Under skies of Idaho sapphire, I'm harvesting dill seeds.

Each head of the dill plant bursts like fireworks frozen in time. With one hand I gather the stems, bend them into a sandwich bag and rub the seeds between finger and thumb until they fall into my bag. Because dill grows so tall, there's no awkward stooping. It's an easy chore in company with Lady Bugs.

Again, I mow. It seems that three days is what it takes to completely mow the ranch. Well, not the entire place. Thank the horses for their part, although they are quite lazy in the sun today. I have tackled a huge portion of knapweed, mowed around the out buildings, the gardening places, yards and apple tree.

And what a validation of faith--I knew it was an apple tree! Hanging high in the old tree are three deep red apples. Three, like the holy trinity of fruit. My love for this tree expands. How gracious of it to lend me a canopy of shade all summer and now in its old age it even offers me three perfect apples.

While I pause for a breather I see the two ducks from yesterday. One dives. Diving ducks--are they the mergansers? I watch and can't seem to make out merganser qualities--no feathered crests or hoods, no long thin sawbills. One duck floats amicably around what is now the turtle log. Four turtles sun bathe as the mystery duck floats.

The second duck is now causing a stir on the south end of the pond. Where it has been diving it is now fighting to hold onto a fish. Many times this summer I've watched the mergansers fish and gulp their meals in a similar fashion. But I'm fairly, almost certain these are not mergansers. Their beaks are too broad, and they seem bigger.

As I watch, the duck with a fish dives with it briefly and hold it under water. My first thought is that it's trying to drown its prey when I realize, this is a fish. Whoever this duck is, he or she is putting up a magnificent struggle for a meal. I'm pleased that these two are resting here, but wish I knew what the duck they are.

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