It’s About Time – December 2014

The duckweed and mosquito fern have been blown to the southeast corner of the pond. It means the wind is coming out of the northwest and it will be cold and rainy. I can feel it in the air; I can smell it swirling around me. It is the source of my joy of walking outdoors. I believe that the feel and smell of nature constitute a subliminal elixir to counteract the poisons of urban living. Even in town, it is important to preserve walking paths through woodlands and prairies in our neighborhood parks. A session on a treadmill in a gym just cannot substitute.

I welcome returning buffleheads and mergansers. I have missed them all summer. Maybe this year I’ll be able to photograph a bufflehead. They are incredibly shy and dive as soon as they see me. Buffleheads are definitely diving ducks, not dabbling ducks. If I am lucky enough to train my camera on one, the moment it gets in focus, it dives. Mergansers are more tolerant of being watched. The winter migrants are so beautiful it inspires an obvious present for the season: Give a good pair of binoculars to your loved one.

For those who like to look closely, give a good triplet hand lens. The beauty and symmetry of mosses and liverworts are revealed under strong magnification. They may all look alike from a distance, but under a hand lens, the tidy rows of liverwort leaves distinguish them from the scruffy spiraled leaves of mosses.