All Photographs + Text Copyright 2012 Christopher Keeley

Wild Duck


I am walking along the pine grove path beside the stream to sit at a bend above the stream where the rushing noise of the Neversink River is so loud and soothing. While walking I startle a wild duck that's sitting in the stream, possibly looking for brook or brown trout. This duck flies away squawking downstream. I encounter this duck or possibly its mate at least three times while walking back. The duck must have made our stream its home, as it's probably never been disturbed before, because rarely does any human life venture on the stream. It's wild and wonderful.

I am thinking how fortunate I am to have such a wonderful place to visit, and how this duck may not survive if it keeps flying downstream to where other homes and people are. These ducks may be extinct one day because of all the happy hunters and the firearms that people have. No consideration given to God's natural beauty. I then thought how outrageous it is that our Vice President unelected Cheney and the Supreme Court Justice Scalia shot all those ducks on their week of hunting. Hundreds of poor innocent ducks. I know the beautiful creature; the duck on our stream is endangered and magnificent.

I noticed baby trout swimming in pools made by the mountain spring, and wondered how they would survive being trapped away from the main stream. I noticed some salamanders burying themselves in the mud. I came across a tiny toad that was completely camouflaged in the mud. It displayed no fear when I picked it up other than urinating on me. I thought about the Australian Aborigines who drink the sweat off a toad's back to hallucinate. I wondered if this urine would do something to me, like make me break out in a rash. I wanted to photograph the toad. This tiny brown toad had intricate wrinkles. He even had a beard that gave him some character. He made me laugh. I wanted to bring him home as a pet. I thought some bird might love to eat him. I put him back into a mud puddle.

A chipmunk got trapped in my parrot's acrylic transporter cage that was sitting on a picnic table. I have been feeding the chipmunks Merle the Cockatoo's parrot mix on the front steps. A large family of chipmunks live under the front porch and chirp happily with all of this newfound food that has been dispensed to them. I closed the transporter door, trapping the gleeful chipmunk that suddenly turned puzzled in panic. I thought, Wow, I could bring him home, not thinking that Merle will also need to inhabit the transporter cage. Then I thought I could feed him parrot food and water. I could use the parrot transporter cage as the chipmunk's cage. This was a bad and cruel idea, so I let the poor chipmunk go, after I got a good look at him.

This evening while walking to the kitchen I heard a thrashing and knocking noise on the front porch. I turned on the porch light to find Rocky Raccoon trapped inside Merle's traveling cage that was still sitting on the picnic table from this afternoon. I approached the cage, which had caught a parrot food munching raccoon, because the cage had fallen with the raccoon in it, and had lodged next to the railing, blocking the door. Thinking that I might get a nasty bite and rabies, I approached the magnificently masked and striped raccoon with the utmost caution. Carefully I freed the raccoon, and he fled off into the darkness. I was amazed at how easy it was to trap animals unintentionally with Merle the Cockatoo's clear acrylic traveling cage! I brought the cage indoors so that no more critters would venture in to eat Merle's dropped parrot food. When I was drinking Wild Duck, I wasn't able to see any wildlife, appreciate any wild life, and I became wild myself.

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