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Original Issue

Flitting Ghosts of Pleasures Past

They can still be seen, the Chesapeake canvasbacks, and to watch them as they slide, wings flaring, through a lead-gray sky is to know why they are and always have been the most majestic of ducks. But their day is gone. Hardly a breath ago, as late as the '40s, 100 "cans" might decoy at once on the Susquehanna Flats. Rafts of 50,000 would cover acre upon acre of water. Now the Flats arc sterile as a salt lick, and on the great gunning rivers of Maryland's Eastern Shore—the Sassafras, the Chester and the Choptank—the noble canvasback is counted differently. "Saw seven yesterday." "Must have been 20 of them, flew by high." Which means a sport has vanished too. Paintings will have to serve. And memories