Lord, I'd like to thank you for the meal I just ate.
Thank you for blessing me with an incredibly fat little greenwing teal for my first duck of the season - it makes for a much better "grace" than the coot I accidentally got for the second bird of the season.
Thank you for inspiring my boyfriend to run off on book tour with both boning knives, forcing me to buy a really nice one that I used to debone that teal, giving me every bit of fat and skin that little guy had to offer.
Thank you for the perfect sear that I managed to achieve without filling the entire house with duck-fat smoke. The cats really appreciate it when the smoke alarm doesn't go off.
Thank you for inspiring me to pop some spinach into the fat remaining in that pan while my duck halves rested on the cutting board under a foil tent, and for reminding me to get feta cheese at the store on the way home from work - it was really, really good on the sauteed spinach. I will forgive you for not delivering ripe lemons yet - the splash of vinegar was a good enough hit of acidity to do the trick.
Thank you for a meal so perfectly delicious that the neighbors probably thought I was doing something nasty at the kitchen table, what with all the moaning and incomprehensible utterances coming out of my mouth. I was really just eating. And what more perfect sacrament could there be to mark the start of duck season?
In your name I pray for all of the people who've not yet had the good fortune of eating a greenwing teal. May you bless them with the drive, the means and the utter lack of common sense to become duck hunters. I don't need the competition, Lord, but as you well know, ducks could use the extra habitat that all those hunters would pay for. And it never hurts to have another friend putting in for reservations at the refuge.
Holly A. Heyser is the editor of California Waterfowl Magazine. A hunter, forager, writer and photographer, she lives in Sacramento, California. You can see more of her work at www.hollyheyser.com.