Riding my bike along the shallow muddy river I saw something beautiful. Three small, beautiful ducks swimming swiftly. They seemed very shy; they noticed me on the opposite side of the river looking at them and with furtive glances swam quickly away. The iridescent green stripe on their face was visible, then hidden, then visible again as they swam at different angles. Bright buff colored feathers under their tail, green iridescence contrasting with rusty brown on their face, delicate grey feathered pattern of their back and their shy behavior all made me excited to see this beautiful bird. The Green-winged Teal, Anas Crecca. This duck is common in our North East Winters, but I haven’t seen many. My phone was out of juice and I had no sketching materials so I could only record what I saw in my mind.

I came home and took out my art materials. No Green-winged Teal to be seen, I sketched a grey squirrel leaping and searching among the oak leaves. Blue-grey and rusty brown fur, dark eye circled by a cream colored line… was this furry being intrinsically less beautiful or exciting then the duck I had seen? I thought about our species’ search for the exotic. Maybe this search has helped us survive as a species. Does it still serve a purpose? Maybe, but we also lose something in the search by dismissing what is around us all the time. Is there any way to change this human trait? Maybe by just looking deeply at what is right here now. I think if we really look, we will always see beauty in nature, right now, right here where we are.

“The lure of the distant and the difficult is deceptive. The great opportunity is where you are.”

― John Burroughs

pastel drawing by Rebecca Arnoldi