The snow came roaring in to my little corner of the world earlier this week, and with it the birds, pushing ahead of the blizzard raging behind them. Hunkered down in the cattails, we watched them flying high and fast. They were gone with neither a glance nor quack toward my meager spread and ever-pitiful calling. A typical evening hunt for me.

So we just sat there, the dog and I, in the lee of an old beaver lodge, content to watch the undulating spectacle of migration play out across the evening sky. We had the lake, and seemingly the world, all to ourselves. And, as I often do in the presence of such ancient and wondrous magic, I quickly fell into deep contemplation of all life’s mysteries. A natural thing to do, I suppose, in these last penultimate days of the year, poised between looking back at what was and looking forward to what will be.

I mused and I mulled. I pondered and naval-gazed. I philosophized and proselytized, and just when I was on the verge of pulling it all together into one, all-encompassing unified-field theory of life–the universe and everything–a flight of mallards suddenly pitched into the decoys and my half-formed grand realization was gone like a forgotten dream, leaving in its wake a pair of drakes bobbing in the slushy water.So much for figuring it all out, but a beautiful pair of greenheads on a luminous winter evening is about as good a consolation as a guy could ask for.

Merry Christmas everyone, and here’s hoping your holidays include lots of happy tails and feathers.