Monday, January 10, 2011

APPLES AND DUCKS

This morning the view out all the cabin windows is snow and ice crystals glittering in bright and cold sunlight from a cloudless sky.  It's the time to run around madly, in the futile exercise of capturing the miracle of creation in this gorgeous part of the northwest U.S.  I have tried, but with a disposable camera.  I know a digital would be better, but like VCR's, these cameras are smarter than I, and it isn't worth the headache.  It's impossible not to look at all the reflecting ice crystals and not say "Thank you".  Great gifts must be acknowledged.  Otherwise we're just taking up valuable space, with no redeeming value.

Out the bedroom window, through which some of the girls, the jersey milk cows, often look to see what I'm up to, there is a leafless old apple tree.  The dark burnt-orange color apples still cling to the tree, though frozen many times over by now.  It looks like a forgotten Christmas tree, covered with funny colored ornaments.

The ice in the parking lot of the church yesterday had to be 2" thick, enough that the weight of the trucks didn't crack it.  It's hanging in there for the duration.  Even ice cleats on your shoes wouldn't stop you from skating unwillingly in any direction.  If you remember Tim Conway's funny old man walk, that's what we all look like. 

The Boss's wife and I picked up our mail, her SUV's rear end threatening to pass us even at the slowest speed.  Coming across an old, one-lane bridge from the dinky town, we thought we saw something floating in the river below.

As we drew closer, it became evident that two men wearing camo, in a camo colored canoe were paddling toward something splashing in the water.  We slowed down to watch; one of the men waved.  Everyone waves here, whether they know you or not.  The splashing in the water was a wounded and half drowned mallard duck.  So I am about to learn about duck-hunting season.

The river current wasn't helping them.  Neither was the fact that their maneuvering of the canoe was inept to put it politely.  The one with the paddle reached it out toward the duck.... in hopes it would grab on, no doubt.  The duck declined and continue to flounder.  Mr. Paddle pushed the duck under the water briefly, as the canoe washed out of reach of it.  The duck bounced up again.  Mr. Paddle worked to get them back upstream within reach. 

In ads and photos we always see a faithful laborador retriever bringing the duck back to his master.  Not in a frozen river.  Not if you want your dog to live out the day.  There are places where there is ice, covered with snow, on the river which slowly moves below that surface.  No one and nothing survives that cold if plunged in.

Not only is there no trusty dog, these amateurs don't have a net, or anything for scooping up the now drowned duck.  They got as far at Cabelas as the cute clothes and camo canoe, but basic equipment didn't occur to them.  My companion and I were by now rudely laughing at the men all dressed up, risking their lives to retrieve a drowned duck.  The whole thing was a comedy skit from the Carol Burnett show.

As we slowly drove off the bridge, we noticed a third member of the party, also recently out of Cabelas.  She had a gun stock resting on her hip, as she watched the comedians in the canoe.  She wasn't laughing, but should have been.  Maybe it was her poor shot that brought down the duck. 

The guns, ammo, canoe, and camo gear must have included the group in Cabela's nightly prayers of thanksgiving. 

How much does a duck cost at the local meat market?

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