Transients

The little dog and I have the Fish Creek delta to ourselves. Frost feathers on broken pans of pond ice sparkle in sunshine that I am beginning to take for granted.  We may pay later for our recent stint of clear, dry, and cold weather. But on this windless day it is easy to ignore the future. 

            The high tide is about to crests. It lifts and fractures the pond ice.  In additional to the expected tinkling and cracking, we heard a deep base sound, like you’d hear after dropping a rock into a well. The sounds don’t bother Aki as she follows a scent trail around the pond edge. It’s hard to convince her to follow me onto the spit that separated the stream drainage from Fritz Cove. 

            Ten American widgeons pull away from the cove beach. A strip of seaweed dangles from one of their beaks. They don’t winter here so they must be transients. Golden eyes, local ducks, hunt offshore. Along the creek banks, other widgeons rest with beaks tucked into their back feathers.  Hundreds of mallards sleep nearby. Transient green wing teal hunt for food in the creek. 

            The sleeping ducks don’t stir until the crest of the tide, when the rising waters drive them from their beds. They don’t fly off in a panic. Just stir and let the tide carry them into the stream. Overhead, a murder of crows summersaulted through the air.

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