Perfect weather

The past three days have been beautifully cool. Today, the sun came out. It is ideal June weather.

Things are beautiful on the swamp. Today, two new broods emerged from the weeds: A family of mergansers and a family of blue-winged teal. The teal are especially playful, diving under the water and popping up, shaking their head, then diving again as if they are trying to remove a cocklebur from the back of their head.

Every time I interview somebody for this book, I find that the next day I am utterly drained and useless. I wanted to do nothing today, and fortunately, things were quiet enough at the nursery to allow me to do just that.

My high school buddy Michael has returned from 16 months in Afghanistan. He looks great. He and his wife Jen came to the nursery today to look around, and it was good to visit. The sixteen months went so fast that it seems like just yesterday we were having the good-bye party for him. I am sure the time didn't go as fast for Michael.

Michael has two young children who are glad to have him home, too.

I think returning home is as much a challenge to him as being gone. You are faced with people's ignorance about what is going on overseas. In particular, people don't take the time to learn the difference between the Afghanistan mission and the Iraq mission.

Although Michael is in the guard, he was in the U.S. Army at one time, and he really is a career soldier. You can tell he loves it. And I think he is happy he had a chance to use his twenty-five years of training in a real situation. Michael was engaged in training Afghan Army units, equipping them to fend off the Taliban.