Always endeavoring to inject a little culture into my otherwise mundane lifestyle (whatever), I quietly found my seat for this evening’s symphonic presentation.

Silence was essential to keep from distracting the musicians, and I was plenty early, so I settled into my seat to enjoy the warm-ups. The bass vocal section began its practice first with a few deep, throaty “baruums.” The first was very near where I sat, and no sooner had he finished his warm-up scales than another began from somewhere on the other side of the stage.


Always endeavoring to inject a little culture into my otherwise mundane lifestyle (whatever), I quietly found my seat for this evening’s symphonic presentation.

Silence was essential to keep from distracting the musicians, and I was plenty early, so I settled into my seat to enjoy the warm-ups. The bass vocal section began its practice first with a few deep, throaty “baruums.” The first was very near where I sat, and no sooner had he finished his warm-up scales than another began from somewhere on the other side of the stage.

I know a little about singing and was surprised the basses were so scattered. Next were the tenors; there were many more of them, and they progressed quickly through a series of hoarse, raspy almost croaking-sounding drills. The percussion section followed by banging away on some sort of wooden instrument, and one at a time the other parts of the orchestra took their turns at rehearsing from various positions on the grand stage.

Then suddenly all was silent. The lights were low so I couldn’t be sure, but the conductor must have appeared on stage to begin the evening’s performance. As if by the downward stroke of His invisible wand, all parts of the orchestra came in together, exactly on cue.

My seat tonight was the front seat of my pickup, and the grand stage was a privately owned four- or five-acre swamp, known around here as a sinkhole, that borders a large state-owned wetlands complex near my home.

This habitat is quite unlike most of Kansas, so time spent here is like time spent in another world, and I come here every chance I get. Just the week before as I sat in the very spot I was tonight, a beautifully tawny colored whitetail doe had walked up the sand road toward me and jumped off into the brush just ahead.

I slowly rolled the pickup forward and found her facing me mere feet from the road, her ears erect and her face perfectly framed amidst the green leaves. I missed a wonderful photograph only because I was fumbling with the electric window switch trying to keep my excited dachshund pup from diving out the window to greet her.

I trap beavers here, and tonight I hoped to see some beavers before it got fully dark. I knew that was a longshot, but I wasn’t at all prepared for the concert I was given.

Naturally the bull frogs took care of the bass part, their deep, throaty calls echoing across the swamp one at a time, and then altogether to begin the presentation. They soon were joined en masse by the tenors, which I assumed to be smaller frogs like spring peepers.

The woodpecker who seemed to be the sole percussionist had evidently gone to bed, so that part was lacking from the final performance. Small fish rolled and flipped in the shallows, and night birds called back and forth across the swamp, each adding their own unique background sounds to the recital. Soon the mosquitoes found my open windows and threatened to carry me off, so I headed home.

Planning is a good thing and a much-desired quality in most cases, but those of us who are planners often become inflexible to the point where we miss lots of what nature has to show us. I’m slowly learning to come to this place with no agenda and let God do the planning; most certainly another reason to Explore Kansas Outdoors!

Steve Gilliland is a syndicated outdoors columnist, and can be contacted by e-mail at stevegilliland@embarqmail.com