I venture out this splendid September late afternoon, basking in warm golden light. I’ve been feeling crummy, a head cold. Parking by a backwoods pond I drink in the reflected hemlocks, trailing bows in the water.

A tiny duck sails out from a little cove. I wish for binoculars. But instead, patience. (And google who tells me she’s probably a ruddy duck.) She glides leaving only the tiniest ripple in her wake. Sips water, let’s it roll over her, shakes her feathers. Then disappears.

Female Ruddy Duck, photo via Wikimedia Commons

I ask her to come closer, and soon she grants my wish, moving this way from the clear center of the pond. Gets close enough that I see her paddling feet in the clear water.

She dives, and now in well-lit shallows I can watch her, a sleek missile, speeding toward the bottom. After a while she bobs up, glittering.

A cloud of gnats swirl in a column of light. Bees dance among the asters.

Another bird soars in low over the pond, banking like a plane, circling the pond. Lands on a curving dead branch and chitters- a kingfisher. Bird and branch, twice, in the pond mirror.

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