Last Saturday morning, I woke up shortly after the sun had awakened and Huntley Meadows, one of the local wildlife refuges, beckoned. There was only one thing that made me think that maybe, just maybe, I should stay in bed. The sky was overcast and the weather casters predicted about two inches of rain for the weekend. I was pretty sure I wanted to just go out, go for a short hike, and take some pictures. There was, however, something weighing on my mind. It was grey. It was dull. What pictures were there to take in such a day as this? In short, while I knew what I wanted to do, how will the reality of the on and off drizzle mesh with my idea of taking pictures of birds in spring? My heart said go ahead. My head asked why? How so?
Sometimes the head wins out. Sometimes the heart flutters too much and like the sweet smell of sampaguitas, the feeling envelops you, and the world feels new. Is new. The dawn of a new day. A little muted, perhaps, but alive with possibilities.
And so it was that three hours was spent walking around in the on and off sprinkles from the sky. And sometimes, the sun decided to tease a little warmth into the cool May morning. The heart may be a lonely hunter at times, but then again, it can only be so. For in the ups and downs and ups in life, we find our way to life lived, a life lived well.
How so? The answer is simple. Make it so. And here are the pictures to prove it.
One look says it all.
To all the mothers in the world. May there be peace and love in your heart always. A love that knows no boundaries, in this life and the next.
After a slew of fairly warm days, I decided to take a walk at one of the local wildlife refuges in Northern Virginia. Huntley Meadows is one of my favorite places to take walks (with a camera, of course). There is a central wetland (fairly small) that hosts an abundant variety of birds (especially during the warm months of spring to fall). In the midst of a relatively warm winter, there have been days that observers reported a wide variety of birds in the refuge.
Yesterday (Saturday) was not one of those days where birds were plentiful and easy to find. I am sure that trained eyes would do better than I did, but it was barely above 20F when I left for the refuge (about ten miles away), after the sun had been up an hour. Surprisingly, there were a fair number of people walking around the park. And there were a fair number of disappointed photographers.
It was cold. And for the day (at least in the morning), the birds were few in number. Oh, there were ducks of several sorts and there was an osprey (or something like it) that flew over the boardwalk for a scant ten seconds. Aside from that, nothing. It was a cold day for this human. I suppose the birds don’t really want to go out and about when the wind is brisk and the sun barely peeking out of the clouds.
Oh well. There were still ducks.
A snowy winter day in mid January. Not much to do, except look outside the window and stay warm. The weather outside may have been frightful, but the view inside was delightful. The song was better.
One of the interesting things to see at Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge is the nuclear power plant in the not so far off distance. It is a tribute to nature’s resilience and diversity that one of the symbol’s of mastery of the resources available to him is readily seen in what is a reminder of the place that we live in. The little blue marble that hangs like a jewel in the night, that delicate ball of water, minerals, air, the third planet from a smallish yellow main sequence star, the rock that we call Earth. To walk at Bombay Hook is to appreciate nature’s gift to man. A place of beauty, a place teeming with life, a place that must be nurtured if it is continue to be a dwelling place for all the creatures that live and visit there. A place that is a microcosm of the ecosystems around the world that we live in. We have diverse environments around the world, many of which are threatened by unbridled and undisciplined human activity. Why do we throw out so much plastic every day, every year? What happened to water fountains? Or at least that reusable jug that we carried water in? We think that the most visible and egregious symbols of environmental destruction are the wanton release of hydrocarbons in the air, the precursor to an unstoppable, runaway greenhouse effect that will doom the planet into a Venus like existence. The nuclear plants that can release dangerous radiation into the air are often seen as threats to the world we live in. And yet, they are efficient power generators that provide the electricity to millions of people and make industry and technological advances possible. There are arguments for eliminating or at least reducing our reliance on systems that threaten the health of our world. Lost in the discussion is something that we see with our eyes every day. Our disposable society has made as much of a negative impact on the health of the planet as any other man made “intervention.”
I have some training in science and engineering. I believe that someday, we will be able to remove gases from the air to lessen the effects of global warming. We will be able to generate power more efficiently, more cleanly (though I worry about migrating birds running into vast power generating turbines on the shores and in the open fields). And yet, will the climatic changes that are currently under way be stemmed (or reversed) by some future scientific endeavor? Also, the debate presupposes that we have all the facts and that the answers are already clear (when it comes to the global warming debate). I have some questions still. How much of the perceived global warming is an artifact of human activity and how much of it can be attributed to a natural cycle that we do not understand? The sun’s radiation output is not uniform. Random events that release dust and gas into the atmosphere (volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, meteor strikes) have short and long term effects on the environment. If we pass through a “dusty” part of the galaxy, will there be a measurable drop in the amount of solar radiation that reaches the planet and what effect will it have on life? So many questions left to be asked. And answered.
All I know is that we must be better stewards of the world that we live in. Higher efficiency power generation, less reliance on fossil fuels and nuclear power plants. Less pollution, more recycling. The mantras of today’s environmental movement. All good things. And yet, we can start our own revolution at home. Use less water when washing clothes. Use less plastics. You say they are bio degradable? If they take hundreds of years to degrade, is that really harmless? Drive less, walk more. Use the bicycle a little bit more. This would mean that the cities and suburbs that we live in may actually look like neighborhoods again. Accessible stores, libraries, restaurants. And if you walk enough, you may even meet someone new and interesting. And if you walk enough, you may see that there are a lot of things that we individuals can do to keep our planet cleaner. Safer. If you walk enough, you give yourself time to think about your own life, and maybe make it better. So, here’s a random thought. Walk a mile or two and in your own small way, foster a revolution that will make our planet a better world for all of us. Today. And ensure its future as that blue marble teeming with life, a world of varied ecosystems, all in harmony with each other.
Why is the familiar different now
The river by the bend
The trees, the rocks, the birds, the sky
A thousand steps walked alone
In solitude, nature was my friend
And yet today, even as the bird sang its welcoming song
As the winds of winter give way to the blossoms of spring
As the water lapped gently on the rock strewn shore
I heard my heart speak
In winter’s depth a flower bloomed
Joy came forth, the soul consumed
A life, thought dead, was vital still
And so it was this winter day
That the steps familiar had a different strain
There is beauty everywhere
And time enough for us to share