Date: 2/23/18 1:59 pm
From: Joseph C. Neal <joeneal...>
Subject: The finery of Wood Ducks
Today sure had potential to be dreary, but spring wouldn’t have it. It was 100% overcast, all gray, and rain was promised, but the chickadees were singing in my yard and the rain held off long enough I couldn’t stay away. It turns out gray & dreary was just a backdrop for remarkable colorful and exciting Earth.

The distinct feeling that dreary wasn’t going to happen happened as I drove past a wooded prairie pond near Highfill. Something caught my eye and turned out to be the most remarkable, the beyond imagination, UN-dreary: a flock of Wood Ducks, male and female, just arrived back in the Ozarks, and all dressed up in spring finery. Back-and-forth they swan, this way and that way, behind the green moss of trees, then in the open. I thought I had died and gone to heaven. Maybe I had.

A little later, at Eagle Watch Nature Trail, the remarkable finery of Wood Ducks near met its match in the reds and grays of Fox Sparrows. They were foraging in the grass, right outside the viewing blind, so close I near passed out from holding my breath, sure if I breathed too loud they’d be gone. Watching that close one, I heard another, or two, singing in the bushes. That wonderful lilt, that salute to the heavens, the promise of a fecund Earth we share … in song …

Now after Wood Ducks and Fox Sparrows I was all full to the popping, then to my nose came this remarkable perfume. I pinched myself. Am I still alive? Closed my eyes and walked. And there, on the path, near Eagle Watch parking lot, just as the rain began to fall, an enormous Witch Hazel bush, in full flower, all radiating spring. Earth has spoken.

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