The Tired Teal

Next time the phrase "just a duck" enters my mind, I will slap myself

Grounded by an early-season storm, the exhausted bird above seemed inclined to complete her winter migration on foot. While she appeared uninjured, waddling and swimming with no evident difficulty, she wouldn’t fly.

Thus beached for several days, she afforded me the time I needed to notice her. Primarily focused on a big blue heron stalking tidepools nearby, I initially dismissed her as “just a duck.” Blame my camera, which inclined as it is to find and focus on bright and beautiful things, is equally happy to ignore anything drably dressed. But … given an extended opportunity of time to look more closely … I slowly discovered hidden in this plain brown wrapper, a diamond in the rough.

“Hidden” in plain sight, of course, and more accurate to say emerald than diamond — but a gem by any description, sparkling for all with eyes to see. Sent (no doubt) on a mission to remind me (yet again) of my own persistent propensity to overlook beauties ensconced in things my eyes seem sure they’ve seen before, things my mind thinks it already knows. And thank my camera, for frequently sneaking me past such mental blockades by innocently revealing in its footage things I’m surprised to admit I never truly saw, when I thought I “saw” them in the field.

Things like this green-winged beauty, which I almost missed entirely. She was soon joined on the beach by another of her kind, which together, several days later — having recharged their spirits and delivered their message to me — took to bejeweled wing and continued on their journey.


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