Simplification – A Goal
Header Image: Great Blue Heron
We married young. Too young, “they” said. With our 20-20 hindsight, Gini and I have determined we married at the exact time the universe had scheduled the event. Our life continues to be infinitely rewarding.
In those early days, we had little “spare” money. (Times haven’t changed much!) What we had an abundance of was curiosity – about everything. The military life had its challenges, but a nice side benefit was the new places it flung us every few years. Different cultures, languages, foods, environments – we were like sponges and soaked up all we could absorb.
Time marched on and we were blessed with the two best children which have ever been born. The money poured in. And leaked right back out again. Thanks to Gini’s frugality and detailed planning, we socked away a few coins. Eventually, we reached a point where we thought we could afford a “luxury” now and then. A better Tee-Vee set, a stereophonic system, nicer toys (for those children, you know).
Camping equipment was a “necessity”, we convinced ourselves. Exploring nature required binoculars (for those children, you know). The military camera club had a sale too good to pass up and, after all, seeing all that stuff is one thing, but to have it recorded for posterity (for those children, you know), well, another “necessity” was checked off the list.
Sigh. Those children. Long ago, it seems, they fledged, as they were bound to, and forlorn parents simply had to do something to maintain our balance in life. Upgrades! That’s the ticket! The digital world beckoned and the siren song of sending those children‘s children instant gratification of their grandparents’ exploits could not be denied.
Meanwhile, in the real world of our present reality, we have a lot of stuff which has not only accumulated over many years, but, I swear this is true, it has found a way to multiply when we aren’t looking. How else can one explain all the camera bodies, lenses, tripods, packs, batteries, memory cards, ad infinitum, spread out over the living room floor??
Our typical birding day-trip includes renting a small moving van to haul the requisite equipment one must have available to adequately capture the essence of an avian subject resting upon a twig. After all, THIS might be the one which will motivate National Geographic or Sir David Attenborough his own self to contact us concerning our upcoming fame and fortune!
Last Tuesday, in an outright display of unacceptably irresponsible and reckless behavior, I left the house with only one camera, one lens and one pair of binoculars. I know. I should have been reported.
A strange thing occurred. During the next hour-and-a-half at the local park, I observed nature. Right here within the city limits. Standing on the shore of the lake, I actually saw the sunrise. I don’t mean I looked eastward and there was the sun at 0710 as scheduled. I mean – I watched as the horizon turned pink, then orange and the bright arc of our sun moved slowly upward and became the fiery ball which keeps us all alive. Water droplets gathered on the flat lily pads. Fish broke the water’s surface as they fed on floating insects. Calls of birds filled the air.
It was – exhilarating.
There was no urgency to record anything. Being there was enough.
(Habits are difficult things to ignore. Images were made.)
Water on the lilies resembled shards of broken glass.
The white face and bright eyes of a Blue Dasher (Pachydiplax longipennis) greeted the rising sun of a new day.
This is a city park where well-meaning people indulge in feeding the birds. The resident population of Purple Gallinules has learned to head straight for humans when spotted knowing they will likely be rewarded with a soggy bit of hot dog bun or handful of potato chips. Yum.
The tops of trees throughout the park are now filled with resident and migratory birds in their non-stop quest to consume fuel for their journey further south. This Blue-gray Gnatcatcher seemed to inspect every single branch.
Park personnel thoughtfully placed a bench at the lake’s edge for weary White Ibises to rest.
Northern Flickers tend to feed in an “un-woodpecker-like” manner by hopping along the ground, where they often target ants. In the eastern United States, the Yellow-shafted form of this handsome woodpecker is prevalent while in the west there is a Red-shafted form. Once upon a time, they were considered separate species. But then – science happened.
Bright early morning sunshine highlights the latest trend in hair style for modern Red-bellied Woodpeckers. This may be a result of late molting, “bed-head”, no coffee yet or simply a reaction to seeing me standing under its perch.
Thick, hooked bill and yellow “spectacles” help identify the Yellow-throated Vireo. This beauty breeds in our area but its numbers increase as fall migration progresses.
The large Brown Thrasher with its golden eyes is an accomplished singer with a vast repertoire exceeded only by his cousin the Northern Mockingbird.
More often lately, we tend to eschew the moving van of paraphernalia and instead grab the bins and camera and head for somewhere local. We are exceedingly fortunate to have superb birding venues mere minutes away. The storehouse of equipment will still come in handy. Just not on every trip.
We hope you enjoy your search for a natural place and come back for a visit!