Taking for granted

We drove over 200 miles on Thanksgiving day to watch tundra swan and snow geese. We heard they would be at Bombay Hook on the Delaware bay, along with lots of other water birds and ducks like gadwalls and shovelers and pintails. I peered through binoculars. Rick snapped photographs. We watched them fly in formation and began to recognize their distinct calls.

Each pond we visited, around each bend in the trail, the Arctic swans and geese that had traveled so far to this coastal marsh, and whom we had traveled so far to see, mingled freely with the ever present Canadian geese and mallard ducks. Mostly I ignored the Canadian geese and the mallards. Two minutes outside my door, any day I desire, I can find these common water creatures on the Yellow Breeches creek that runs at the bottom of my hill. I wouldn’t think of driving 200 miles to gaze at them.

But back home this morning, I walked by a group of mallards huddling from the wind; that’s when I realized that, if I never see a tundra swan or a snow goose again, it would be cause for a wistful remembrance. But if I were never to lay eyes again on the green heads of the mallards or hear the back and forth honkings of a pair of Canadian geese, then it would be a loss that would press and oppress deep and silent every time I walk the path that hugs the home creek. If that would happen, I know I would give anything to drive 200 miles to hear the familiar fussing of male mallards and the whipping of air as a gaggle of stretching black and white necks rise into the air to practice formations. I take them for granted.


  1. Beautiful post.