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In those first days and months, I was content to just hang out along the edge of the swamp. It always had something to amuse me, but it was also beginning to teach me. I was learning the different kinds of frogs, the sounds they make and some of their habits.

For example I could focus on a green frog and wait endlessly, hoping it would do something—anything—but it would just sit there. As soon as I put the camera down it would ribbit and skip across the water to chase another frog. Yup, could count on that almost every single time. A ribbit was always followed by a leap, but it was a certain tone of ribbit, not its usual twangy, banjo sounding ribbit. I’m sure ribbit isn’t the proper term, but I’m also sure it doesn’t really matter. Anyway, it would happen so quickly, there was, usually, no time to get a shot. I did get sorta lucky once.


I was also learning how to identify certain birds and their songs and calls, like the yellow Warbler, the red-bellied woodpecker, the northern flicker, and the yellow-bellied sapsucker, which is the most awesomely named bird that I know of. Yes, I know that’s a dangling preposition. You’ll find a lot of them in my writing, because I just like them. My apologies to Ms. Jane Schroyer, who I’m sure would be horrified.


Yellow Warbler


Red-Bellied Woodpecker


Northern Flicker


Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

I also learned just how scary Canada geese can be, like the time a pair decided to build their nest on a muskrat’s lodge. One day, while the geese were hanging out in the water, the muskrat came out and sat on the lodge to munch on some grass. Well, the geese were having none of that.


It’s right behind me, isn’t it?


Oh crap!


Maybe they won’t bother me on this side.


The muskrat fought valiantly but, in the end, was no match for two crazed geese.

Unfortunately, before this happened I had gotten bored, because nothing was really going on. I started taking artsy photos and had stopped down my shutter speed so I could stop down my aperture to get more depth of field. As I saw what was about to happen with the poor muskrat, I was so excited that I forgot to change my shutter speed back, so the photos aren’t as awesome as they could have been.

After it was all over and I realized what I had done, I’m pretty sure I said, “Darn, it.”—or something similar, maybe something with an “f”. Not sure.