Sitting at the house yesterday in the twilight enjoying a bourbon I was considerably surprised to see a wood duck whistle past and pitch into the little lake that we live on.
"Wood duck" I said to Belle.
"How do you know?" she asked.
"I just know."
The sight took me back thirty years. I was sitting on the swing at my house on Bayou Derbonne, early on a Sunday afternoon in January. My wife had just asked what I thought we should cook for supper, and while I pondered the answer, a pair of wood ducks whistled over the house and went down in the bayou across the road.
That bayou was about a hundred yards from the house, across a small asphalt road, across a muddy bean field, lined with mixed hardwood and bald cypress lining the banks.
I stood from the swing and went inside, retrieving my upland shotgun. It was a Stevens 311, an inexpensive double-barrel. I plunked two shells into the barrels and went outside. "I'll be right back."
Crossed the road, jumped the ditch and slogged across the muddy bean field. I stopped in the edge of the trees and watched the surface of the bayou, looking for ripples in the still water. I took two steps, and heard wings. The two ducks jumped from the water and I swung on them. Pop! Pop!, a left and a right, and I had two ducks down in the bayou. There I stood in muddy sneakers, jeans, and a flannel shirt.
There was nothing to do but go in after them, so I put the shotgun down and waded in after them into chest-deep water. Then I headed for the house, cold, wet, muddy, with supper in my hand.
Dinner that night was roasted wood duck, with rice, gravy, steamed broccoli and cat-head biscuits. Not a bad supper for an afternoon's work, even if I did have to wade for it.
I wonder if someone hung a wood-duck box on the lake. They are in no danger from my shotgun, but it is nice to see them late in an evening. The sight takes me back to good times.