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A Quiet Fall Morning
November 12, 2023
Fall sunrise. Somewhere in the distance, a large group of geese are chatting with each other. A quiet noise if there is such a thing, or at least a noise made quiet by the space between us. Just as the sun rises, a loon calls. He’s been doing this all week. One call comes as if from the ether and echoes down the lake. Close enough I think I should be able to see him. Yet for now, he remains out of view.
A pack of cooties swims into the cove, squeaking and hopping as they do. A flock of black chickens with giant, green, dinosaur feet. I don’t know how anyone can keep a straight face watching coots.
(One of my favorites, I have written about them before.)
A gust of wind blows and suddenly I’m sitting in a swirl of oak leaves, drifting en masse from the tree overhead. I look up and watch the leaves float down then pick one from my hair and let it fall near my feet. I watch how the leaves land on the water and float with the gentle motion. I giggle, spontaneously, but keep it muted so as not to disturb the quiet or scare the ducks.
The trees are vibrant today, the fog in the air seemed to be just what they needed to shift from a dry brown to a vibrant orange. We all need a bit of moisture to look our best, don’t we?
A duck appears from deep in the cove, a female northern shoveler who must have been hidden among the vegetation. She approaches, warily. No matter how still I am, the small ducks sense my presence. She comes fairly close before she bolts up into the air and flies out towards the middle of the lake. Her friends are waiting there.
As I watch the coots, a black head with a white hood appears. The remembered refrain from Sesame Street pops into my head - “one of these is not like the others”. The first hooded merganser I’ve seen this fall! The creator surely has a wicked sense of humor which is very obvious when watching ducks. The merganser too was wary from the moment he appeared and quickly he dove under and disappeared back out into the lake.
A pied-billed grebe meandered down between the coots. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a pied-billed grebe make a sound. I love their pudgy cheeks. These small grebes often skirt the water’s edge and are (at least sometimes) less skittish than other little ducks. Perhaps their amazing diving ability makes them a bit more bold?
Then suddenly everyone is on alert and birds begin to bolt from the water. I didn’t see what caused it, but the Cooper’s hawk who’s been hanging around would be a prime candidate. Suddenly everything is a flurry of wings, feet, and splashes.
It was a few minutes of pandemonium - and then everything returned to its quiet state. Imagine if we were able to return to calm so quickly? Maybe we could if we spent a lot more time in the quiet too?
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