January 12, 2013
Okay, we finally have "Dance On the Wild Side," the story of our lives, up on Amazon's Kindle page. From a couple of teen-age losers who had little going for them except a willingness to work and a commitment to do it as a team parlayed life into dreams amid aventure. In reality, their story is about any couple who lives and loves and share and struggle to achieve the life they wish. What makes this story especially remarkable is how many times this coupld fell on their butts while doing it. Only $6.99 on Roland Cheek's Amazon Kindle page: http://amzn.to/VVrt1R


The tale I'm about to spin seems far-fetched, only reluctantly pursued. It's not so much being laughed at that bothers, but I don't know if I can handle ridicule. The truth is, I first wrote of this mystery some years ago and got no takers helping me to understand. So I'll try once more: can anyone help?

It was before Thanksgiving; Jane and I strolled the ocean
headwall on the north shore of California's Morro Bay. We watched sea otters bobbing on their backs among massive wave-splattered boulders and great clusters of floating kelp. The tide was high. We paused. Jane carried our binoculars, 10X Zeiss.

Birds of all sort zig-zagged about the ocean surface and into the sky: gulls, pelicans, assorted ducks. Earlier, further up the coast, we'd watched pelicans and sea lions ravenously feeding on a school of fish. And we'd paused to laugh at hundreds of elephant seals lying like giant slugs on a beach north of San Simeon.

Jane paused during our Morro Bay walk to focus a couple of hundred yards away on two black ducks (probably scoters) riding a yard apart on a wave crest. "They've got something between them," she said. "Maybe they're trying to take a clam from an otter."

Just then an otter's head popped up amid kelp, only fifty yards away. And when he rolled on his back to crack a clam, our attention went his way. Other otters appeared and disappeared among the waves. Ten minutes went by as we were absorbed by the show at our feet. Vaguely, though, I was aware those two black ducks still rode the waves together, farther out and to our left.

Finally, the near-in otters moved seaward and Jane began walking away. I focused the binocs on the two ducks. Hmm, they're pecking at something in the water between them; something black. I looked closer. Then the "something" heaved from the water--a great serpent-like heave! I gasped, "Jane!"

She came running back. I thrust her the glasses. "Those two ducks--they're fighting with something!" Just as she raised the glasses, a wave broke over the two ducks. When it passed, there was only one. We waited for a another ten minutes, but the missing duck failed to surface. Finally the second duck flew away into the sunset.

What did we see?

Two certainties. One is that I saw only a section of something round that cleared the water as it writhed. The second certainty is that, upon reflection, those two black ducks had been either attacking or fighting with something since we'd stood there.

My recollection also provides probabilities that are less than certain. For instance, the thought that immediately ran through my mind as the round "thing" heaved above surface was that it was four inches in diameter. But, though my binocs are powerful, it was two hundred yards away, and the thing may have been larger or smaller.

Also seeming less than certain to someone untrained in marine biology: the first black duck never surfaced, though we watched all around that spot. But ten minutes seemed an adequate length of time for us to wait, especially after the second duck flew away.

If anyone can help us learn what we saw, we'd appreciate it. Simply e-mail: roland@rolandcheek.com. Or write Roland Cheek, P.O. Box 1118, Columbia Falls, MT 59912.


Next week? Another walk on the wild side.


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