Discovery on the Duck Flats
By Christine Cunningham
Seven spiders were dropping down on me as if they were mounting a takeover. If I thought crawling through the mud for a hundred yards through the muck and the mud of tidal flats just to sneak up on some ducks was unpleasant, I had yet to experience the joys of lying on my back in a soggy coffin shaped “layout blind” with only the smell of rotting swamp and an assortment of spiders to keep me company. It wasn’t the little spiders that bothered me so much – they were at least slow and easily diverted from my face. It was the hairy black jumping spiders that my hunting partner insisted were a figment of my imagination that caused me dismay.
He was in a similar layout blind forty yards away. The grass on the layout blind seemed greener forty yards away, a place where there were no hairy jumping spiders and where he was probably propped up inside his little luxury coffin pouring himself a thermos lid of coffee and having the philosophical thoughts of old duck hunters who enjoy the thing in itself even if it’s a bad idea because it was, at least, his bad idea.
Cheyenne in the layout blind
Meanwhile, I was mounting a campaign for why I would never do this again. If we weren’t going to get any ducks, we might as well not get any ducks in our regular blind, which featured camp chair seating and a nice view of the decoys on a quaint little pond at sunrise. Instead, I was crammed into a metal framed version of hell with a pair of rusty doors that, if they could spring open as planned and if I could coordinate the pile of joints that had become my once limber frame and if I could operate my break open shotgun then I just might be able to get a shot at some birds. But if none of that happened, I was sure not coming back again.
That’s why I don’t understand why I was back on the flats in the same layout blind the next morning. What seems like a good idea never stops seeming like a good idea. When it doesn’t work out the way it should have, there are too many variables to say for certain if it was the idea that was wrong or if it was, say, the weather or the time of day. Some people are fond of saying that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. Maybe it didn’t occur to these people that Einstein originated his most famous theories while working in a patent office. He is quoted as saying, “Only strong characters can resist the temptation of superficial analysis.”
As I rationalized my reasoning for spending another morning among the spiders, a thin black hair appeared on the brim of my hat. I adjusted my focus just as a second thin hair appeared; this one more closely resembled a spider’s leg. I didn’t have a chance to wait for the rest of the legs before I was met with the eight or so eyes of one hairy black jumping spider. The doors of my layout blind sprung open with an ease I never imagined possible. I was standing alone in the middle of the duck-less flats on a bleak September day. And it was in that moment that I realized what a rotating-triple-head single positron emission-computed tomography scanner could not: the solution to life’s greatest mysteries were all solved at once: the fountain of youth, the cure for cancer, life on other planets, and what happened to Jimmy Hoffa.
But I didn’t have time to jot down the answer because a flock of mallards erupted from a nearby pond and I had to get back into my spider nest quick. I didn’t get any ducks that day, but I will defiantly go back, if only to figure out why gentlemen prefer blonds.
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