The End of the Rainbow

A rainbow arched over a distant bluff illuminated by the same morning rays that created the rainbow. Dark storm clouds massed behind the blufftop to the west. The low eastern light intensified October tree colors below the rainbow, and crows etched their silhouettes like exclamation points across this extraordinary tableau.

Surrounded by all this beauty, I was sitting on a camouflaged bucket at the edge of a five-acre wetland. I was thinking that maybe some waterfowl would be moving in ahead of this Bierstadt landscape. It was, I believed, a good day to be on a bucket.

Twenty-four decoys-18 faux mallards and six Canada geese-bobbed in a slight chop on the greasy water. You never know what will come by the Honey Hole. All of central Missouri is a haven for giant Canada geese. They breed faster than hunters can shoot them, and they invade gardens, golf courses and farm ponds like they owned them. I am but one against the tide of geese, but I'm doing what I can.

The Honey Hole is mine. I figure that every year when I buy a Missouri hunt/fish permit, a few pennies of the cost go into this pond. The pond was created on Conservation Department land by an inspired bulldozer operator. Because it is open to the public, and I am public, it is unarguably mine.

Hemingway slobbered over Kilimanjaro and the Green Hills of Africa, but those hills were no more noble than the ones that massaged my own well-traveled eyes on this lustrous, mid-Missouri dawn. The sight moved me to declaim a thought for the ages: "Oh, wow!"

The rainbow intensified, and a secondary arc formed outside the main one. A double rainbow inspired thoughts of pots of gold and Dorothy and the Tin Man, with whom I identify because I've been accused of not having a brain, either. It was, I reflected, a perfectly reasonable accusation. Anyone with a brain would be sacked out at 6 a.m. on a Saturday morning, but I was sitting on a bucket in a duck marsh, dreaming of rainbows and waiting for ducks to arrive.

I heard a rush of air above me. Because there was no wind, I realized that a flock of ducks was passing overhead. They inspect my decoys with the inherent suspicion of creatures that have flown a thousand-mile gauntlet lined with shotguns. They look for unseemly movement, the glitter of watchbands and spent hulls,