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High stratus clouds are floating by and I spent a good part of the morning pretending to be Judy Collins, a songwriter and singer from the 60s some of us will remember. Her biggest hit was called Clouds and reflected on the various visual aspects clouds can assume.

I had finished writing an article and my eyes were shot, so I went out to the deck overlooking the pond. My intent was to look for the trout we had stocked from the Rains Trout Farm at Squaw Creek. However I noticed an interesting cloud formation floating by and disappearing beyond Grizzly Mountain. So, I grabbed a camera and took some shots, then tipped my chair against the house and stared at the sky for at least half an hour. More clouds came, changed as they went by and more exposures were made.

After a half hour of this, guilt set in. My Anglo-protestant work ethic god was sending signals that I needed to go out and do something constructive, not look at clouds from both sides. Good advice- I really don’t know clouds at all.

Thanks, Judy, for those lines.
. . . . .

Off to do something constructive. I moved the sprinkler from the potatoes to the day lilies. I put the garden tractor away. I had a pair of pieces of pizza, thawed from the freezer and dry fried. I got Gloria’s Kindle, continued reading my book and fell asleep. All of it constructive.


Sometime later I refreshed my coffee mug and went back to my pond-side station. I filled the quart container with trout chow, grabbed a pair of binoculars from the microwave that puked when the power went out. It is now an on-deck watertight enclave for two pairs of binocs and a 62mm polarizing filter. Flicking individual pieces of fish food into the pond I waited for the finny fellows to attack. But unlike the voracious herd of piranha trout we had years ago, these are more subtle: although they break water once in a while for some unseen aquatic creature, their presence in mostly marked by concentric ripples eminating from their body movement as they consume something.

It was the “something” factor that intrigued me. The circles were coming more from where I did not throw the fish food than where I did, and near the deck (where I had thrown some) were continual mini-ripples. I discovered that the trout chow sank after a bit and there were creatures I did not see that were eating it. Apparently a full-meal-deal for the trout: by waiting for a creature to eat the food pellet they get dinner and a dessert. What smart fish we have.

Above it all the dragonflies are either mating or fighting. I know not which for they are much the same. One discovery through the binocs was that while some of the trout pellets were floating, a dragonfly would at times hitch a ride, flapping its wings to propel the pellet. In one flashing moment a fish leapt partway from the water and consumed both.

A small garter snake swam across the pond. If we had bass, the snake probably would have gone to snake heaven. It sinyewed across the water, making lazy wavelets and disappeared into the weeds. Under fallen aspens arched across the upper portion of the pond a mallard quacked. The trees were felled to feed the beaver we had for a few weeks a couple of years ago.

Thus has gone the afternoon. This apre-pizza endeavor lasted about an hour. I felt no guilt about not doing something constructive. Hell, you’reading it.

Well, you were.


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