EDITOR’S NOTE: The columns of Bill Duncan are being reprinted in The News-Review. Duncan, who died in November 2011, wrote a weekly column for The News-Review and The Capital Press of Salem from 1981 to 2011. Duncan wrote the following column in October 1993. His thoughts are still pertinent to today.
I had one of those days recently when you wonder if you shouldn’t have just slept through it. Everything that could go wrong did.
It was a Tuesday, the day after Columbus Day. The day before I had manuscripts to get in the mail, then I realized that neither rain, nor sleet nor snow could stop the mail, but a holiday could. This meant I was working closer to a deadline than I had planned.
In the writing business when you are a day late, you are more than a dollar short.
Just as I was leaving the house that Tuesday morning en route to the post office, a repairman called and said he’d be out at 10 a.m. It was 8:30 and I calculated I could get to town and do my errands and be home in time for the repairman.
That’s when everything went wrong. Long lines at the post office, a car problem, a train blocking the roadway — it seemed as if the whole world suddenly moved in slow motion. I barely got back in time to meet the repairman. I called my mechanic about the car problem, and he said if I’d bring it in at 1 o’clock, he could work on it. I told him I wanted to be at a memorial service for a friend at 3 p.m. He assured me that was plenty of time. It wasn’t. I finally had to leave without the necessary repairs, hoping that a chewing gum solution would hold it together.
The memorial service was in Winston at the Wildlife Safari, where friends were gathering to celebrate the life of Peter Vogel, who had died a few days before. I almost decided not to go, knowing I was going to be late. I was angry and upset over a day that hadn’t gone as I had planned. I slipped into the service that was already under way and took a back seat.
Despite all the good things that were being said in eulogies about my friend Peter, I was still uptight over the day.
Peter had died of cancer at age 77. He was a medical doctor, a pilot and one of the best wildlife photographers I have ever met. His works have been exhibited nationally and published in such prestigious magazines as Smithsonian.
He was a volunteer at Wildlife Safari almost from its inception. He gave photo workshops and even published his own book on how to photograph wildlife. He once said to be without his camera was like “walking down Main Street naked.”
Knowing all this about this quiet, gentle man who had an infectious smile and a delightful sense of humor, I still was far from calm. That is until the services ended in a perfect memorial to Peter Vogel — a 40-minute slide show, accompanied by music, of Peter’s masterpieces. Suddenly, I found myself relaxing, the tightness in my jaw slacked while my eyes feasted on Peter’s world — snow-capped mountains, glaciers, birds, bees, bears, wild flowers, waterfalls, lakes, rivers and oceans.
When I left the memorial service I was a soul at peace. As I crossed the parking lot, I saw a clover that had pushed its way up through asphalt and was full of pink blooms. I said to myself: “Now Peter would stop and take a picture of that.”
So I stopped to examine it.
Peter had his last laugh. There before my eyes was a fully formed four-leaf clover, the first one I have ever found.
With friends like Peter, who has time for troubles?