Yesterday morning I found myself listening, quite by accident, to some old piano blues. The cassette was mislabled; I’d been looking for something else, but what I found was exactly what I needed to hear. Not because I had the blues, you understand. But because those particular songs — “Mother Earth” by Memphis Slim, “You Can’t Have It All” by Sunnyland Slim, and “Cry To Me” by Professor Longhair — make me glad to be alive.
Then I went out with my camera, checking to see if the mallard’s clutch had hatched in the night. This is a duck that, in defiance of all logic, has nested in a dry field on a dry mountaintop, about 100 years above the head of the stream — probably the same one I saw checking the place out on April 24 in the company of her mate.
I went straight from the blues to the yellows: yellow irises in the shed lawn (top photo) and a flock — or is it a charm? — of goldfinches up in the field.
The mallard hen was sitting perfectly motionless, as usual, trusting in her excellent camouflage, which renders her nearly invisible even from three feet away. No yellow ducklings were in evidence. Actually, with all the nest-raiding predators about, I’ll be very surprised if the nest survives the full incubation period. But if it does, it should be interesting to see what the mother does with her new family: will they walk the full mile and a half down to the river, as one of our hunter friends saw a wood duck family doing last year? Or will they try and stick it out in our stream, which, while free of snapping turtles, would seem to offer no protection from raccoons, foxes and coyotes?
When I got back to the house, the sun was just filtering down to the wild mustard patch in front of the old springhouse. So many yellows — so much sweetness and light! The only blue I found, apart from the sky, was in a few, last, faded speedwell blossoms in my garden, and in the pinhole-sized spots at the base of a caterpillar’s spines.
But mostly what I saw was green.