Wild animals come into our lives for only brief moments. One must be deft at beholding them. A photographer must also be quiet and at the ready. Fiddling around with cameras and settings can mean lost opportunity. The whirring of autofocus and the thunderous thud of an SLR shutter can scare off humans in the wild, let alone other warm-blooded creatures
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A red flash! I blinked, thinking it to be some kind of short circuit deep inside my retina. Another red flash! Was it an illusion? Or was there something in the brush ahead? I left the path and walked lightly among the dead reeds, trying not to make noise. Stealthiness was an impossible task. The dried, hollow sticks snapped easily under my weight. Flash! Flash! The red flash moved further yet away. It was toying with me.
Vivid dreams. I go through phases. For months, my sleep is nothing more than a murky journey through a fogged looking glass. These are the peaceful nights of bliss, the nights of grainy, black & white. Then it all shifts into aerobic nights of tossing and turning—technicolor visions of the other side. It shifted into this phase the other night. During a peaceful dream the looking glass cracked and then shattered into a million pieces. I heard the shrill sound of the breaking crystal. It was as clear as could be. I awoke out of breath. The ceiling fan was silently rotating—its spinning blades looking like those of an army helicopter. I sat up and looked around. No broken glass here. But the shards were symbolic, the shift was complete. I knew I was entering a more active dream phase. The shadows of the moon were deep as I glided off like a bird of the night.
Not long before the raven caper more boats had landed on the beaches around us. A large group of photographers and their crew were setting up camp for the night about a hundred yards downstream. Life on a river boat is certainly different than that of the hiker. Cots, tables, lamps, and stoves were set up by the crew. A flirtatious, young woman set up horseshoes for a group of men who had gathered around her. She threw the first shoe and the eager men let out a loud cheer of approval for her.
I feel his shadow before I actually see it. Like a light summer cloud that blocks the sun for just a moment, our shadows converge into one. Turkey vulture and I look at one another. I could swear he knows that I have a camera—He circles me for a pose. I click furiously, suddenly being blinded by the sun as his graceful wingspan moves aside and reveals the furious, burning ball of light. Then he moves back in position again to shade me. And the sun disappears behind him.
Regular readers of this blog know of the Pyracantha Caper. For some time, someone had been decorating an agave plant along the old rail bed near our home with pyracantha berries. The berries were placed onto the thorny spikes of the agave in a somewhat festive manner. I decided to augment this clandestine activity with a flourish of my own berry decorations. It was a good way to spend that otherwise dull week between Christmas and the new year. I'd hoped others would participate in this secret, suburban art project. Alas, no one did.
Meetings—business meetings, that is—drive me crazy. Every one of them feels like slow death. I've never been to one that brings out the best in anyone, especially the best in me. I was a manager at 25, a vice president at 29, and a burnout at 40. Meetings, even today, at the age of 54, bring back the whole sordid tale.
It is later in the day than normal. I prefer walking after sunrise. By now the sun is too high. There are too many people. The park playground is full of screaming kids and their proud, young mothers. No one notices me. I glide past them like a specter.
During a walk near the local school I noticed a man on a roof of one of the prefabricated buildings that clutter the schoolyard. A giant tub of roofing cement in front of him, he was frozen in an impossible position. Seagulls walked around him, flew over him. He remained frozen except for one arm that swung back and forth as it lathered black goop onto the homely, little roof.
Tomorrow is a great day for photos. July 4th is a gaudy holiday filled with silly hats, parades, flags, bunting, and an occasional Uncle Sam on stilts. My camera is ready, I just cleaned the sensor with some exotic (meaning expensive) cleaner and the batteries are charging. Today I'm doing business chores that keep things going, the unglamorous underpinnings of life.