There are, definitely, great advantages to napping.
I’ve been blessed with the uncanny ability to nap at any time, in any position, at any moment’s notice.
I’m sure many people have wondered if I was napping as they talked to me—even though my eyes were open and I appeared awake.
Not so many years ago, as I fished one April morning along the Poudre River in the northern Colorado Rockies, all I heard were trout laughing at me. Well, some giggled, too.
I came upon a deep pool fed by whitewater rapids, and decided upon the most productive, the best and the most logical course of action. I stepped over to a grassy shelf of soft, pillowy wild grass jutting out a bit into the pool.
Nap time: I laid down. With creel to one side, fly rod to the other, the back of my head comfortably on a flat rock, I gazed up at a sky as blue as a delphinium flower. The temperature was in the magical realm where neither heat nor cold could be felt. The air smelled so fresh that I took deep, meditative gulps through my nostrils.
It was perfect reclining there, slipping into what I do best: napping.
Sometime later I was awakened by loud grukking. The sound resembled off-key music made by a sharp-toothed orangutan blowing spit through a twisted copper pipe. In other words, indescribable unless you hear it yourself.
I had heard such sounds before, in the springtime when a dozen or fewer mergansers annually return to the Poudre for the summer. There are so few of these ducks that not many people have ever seen them, so any sighting is a blessing.
The mergansers hang out for a while along this stretch of the river and get acquainted before heading upstream to create baby mergansers.
By getting acquainted, I mean the lady does the choosing, and the guys do the strutting to gain her favor.
Beautiful babe: From my reclined position, I saw a female merganser move quickly down the rapids. She reached the bottom and swam into the middle of the pool, not far away from me.
I knew if I moved, even twitched my nose, she would take flight. Mergansers are skittish.
Her sleek body was replete with feathers of shades of brown and white. Her head was crimson, her topknot feathers wild and glorious.
All in all, a stunning babe.
And then came the source of all the grukking.
What ensued next was a classical look at the ways of many members of the animal kingdom, even humans and more specifically, unfortunately, some male humans.
The Three Stooges: Three male mergansers, each grukking boldly, cascaded down the rapids. With their black top feathers and white feathery bottoms, they bounced like fishing bobbers through the whitewater and onto the pool.
They hurried over to Babe, encircling her, dashing around and around, keeping her in dead-center.
She wasn’t having none of that.
She broke through the entrapment, hurrying away, leaving the surprised guys staring blankly at each other.
My childhood memory of Moe, Larry and Curly on TV came to mind as the guys grukked angrily at each other.
If they had hands rather wings, they surely would have slapped each other silly. As it was, they nipped at each other. Mergansers are diving ducks so they have sharp serrated bills for catching and eating fish. In contrast, mallards, often seen on the river, are puddle ducks with less vicious bills; they typically feed by tipping into the water rather than submerging.
Screaming out a world-class gruk, each of the Three Stooges reared up on their webbed feet, necks outstretched, chest feathers puffed out, and freight-trained across the surface of the water straight at each other.
The three ruffians collided with a calamitous gruk and bounced back, stunned. Necks flopped askew. Bills twanged. Bodies teetered this way, wobbled that way.
Babe’s escape: Unimpressed, Babe took a short run over the surface of the water, as ducks do when they are taking off, and became airborne.
She was gone from sight by the time the Stooges recovered. They looked around every which way, and I could feel their thoughts form:
Where’d that beautiful dame disappear to?
Finally, one of them geared up, sprinted across the water and flew downstream—just guessing on Babe’s flight plan, I suspected.
He let out a grukking raspberry to his two competitors.
They were having none of that.
Within moments, all three Stooges were speeding in flight downstream–in the opposite direction of Babe’s upstream journey. She was safe.
Back at my grassy riverside spot, I was having some of that: three bullies outwitted by a lady. I decided it’s always good to take a nap.
You never know what you’ll discover when you wake up.
To learn more about mergansers, read the March 26 poudreriver.org blog.
To contact this blog’s writer: GaryKimsey@yahoo.com. Cell: 970.689.2512.