A Roseate Spoonbill managed to find its way to Huntley Meadows. It’s been in the wetlands for a week now. Needless to say, the whole birding community in the area is abuzz. A lot of photographers have taken their cameras and tripods, in all hours of the day, to get a picture (well, hundreds of pictures, by the way the cameras sound) of the wayward visitor. Apparently, this bird rarely finds its way north of South Carolina. I don’t know how much longer it will be here, but there is an ample supply of shrimp for it to feed on. And luckily for me, it was in the vicinity of a blue heron when an egret flew by. It’s good to be lucky (at times). Not too often, as one does not want to live life on the expectation of continual good fortune. Sometimes, though, it’s good to be lucky.
For a small wetland area in the middle of suburbia, Huntley Meadows is not only an oasis for trees, plants and flowers, but also a place where raptors can be found. Ospreys regularly hunt and even nest in its confines. Some pictures taken on a recent visit.
The swallows are all over the place at Huntley Meadows. They move swiftly through the air, their orange and blue colors shifting like the spectrum Edwin Hubble once saw. Their blue and white brothers are just as swift and try as I might, I consider it a lucky happenstance if I am able to capture a swallow in flight, at full speed. Luckily for me and other photographers, the swallows love to perch on the railings in the various overlooks at the wildlife reserve. They even perch on tree stumps by the water. Some swallows, perhaps to escape the heat, or perhaps to rest from their frenetic frenzy, sit on a small abutment of wood in one of the overlooks at Huntley Meadows. And so I had an idea. Try to get as close to a swallow as luck would permit and take a picture.
As luck would have it, the swallow was seemingly mesmerized by this black tube getting close to where it stood. For a brief moment, the lens was close enough to see the swallow closeup and capture the sense of wonder the swallow shares with all of us.
And a bonus picture. This time with the 200-600mm Sony zoom. A swallow in the middle of an in flight rotation. It happened so quickly that I didn’t even see it happening. Life is like that sometimes. Just go with the flow, with wings that take you to the air and beyond.
Two swallows in flight
In different light
For many people in the world, today is a day to celebrate the resurrection of the Messiah. To all of us, no matter our beliefs, it is a day to reflect on what Easter really means. It is the rebirth of man, so to speak. Fallen from grace, God sent His son to the world and in the greatest act of sacrificial love, gave His life so that we all may live. The true importance of Easter is that we are reminded that the most important thing that we can give to each other is Love. Love made the the sacrifice possible. We think of death as the end of all things. And yet, the message of the resurrection is that forgiveness, generosity, a willingness to help one another without expectation of reciprocity, can make all of us better. Renew us. In acts of kindness, in acts of forgiveness, we are reborn. The yoke of hatred is a heavy one. Human bondage, human suffering, the torment of sin cannot be forgotten. We hope to learn from the mistakes. And yet, what good is learning if we are not able to do the even more important thing. To forgive. Today, we celebrate the resurrection, the manifestation of the love that the Creator has for all of us. He came to the world not to conquer, but to forgive. To love us all. And in so doing, restore us in our place as true children of God.
We are on this earth for a very short time. Do we spend that time spewing hatred, thinking selfishly only of our own importance to the world? Or do we spend our time on this earth helping one another, caring for one another. We will make mistakes. Some big, and some small. All of us will. It is the act of forgiveness that sets us free. Lighten the yoke. Bear no ill will towards others. Forgiveness. A virtue sometimes difficult to achieve. And yet, if we forgive others, if we forgive ourselves, we may find that a life lived in generosity, forgiveness and sacrifice is a life lived in love.
We of different cultures, different races, different faiths all live in one fragile planet. Do we really want to spend our days blaming each other for all the ills that we see? For all the ills of the world? Or do we proclaim, like the blind man did, that I was blind, but now I see? See, in each other, the likeness of God, the Creator who made us all. And if we are of one body, then why should we seek to harm each other? The body is whole when it assists all its members. When love, universal, is shared among all. It starts with forgiveness. And the understanding that each part of the body, though different, has a role to play. Nothing is unimportant. No one is unimportant. The sacrifice commemorated on Good Friday was not for the select. Not for the few. The love outpoured was for us all.
Happy Easter! And since it is a celebration of rebirth, here are some pictures.
Leap for joy! For today, we are all reborn.
An osprey goes through the motions looking for a meal.
The wood duck is not normally in this tree stump at Huntley Meadows. Then again, it must be interested in what the geese were doing.
Curiosity is a wondrous thing. And not limited to humans.
As the day winds down, I turn the TV on and sit transfixed. Mesmerized by the colors and the beauty of the latest Pixar movie – Soul. What can I say. This is another masterpiece from the geniuses at Pixar. This film has so many levels that I think it will take dozens of viewings before I even begin to digest the messages that the movie has to say. The most important thing that it brings to my mind, however, is that we as people waste so much time thinking that things can be so much better that we forget how to live life. It isn’t the glories, the heights of fame and success that defines a person. It’s how we live with our family, how we live in our community. How we touch the ones we love and the people around us. We live a life and we forget that every moment is special. I needed this reminder today. I need to remember this message every day. We obsess and work hard to get somewhere and then when we get there, it often feels like a disappointment. There is an emptiness, a feeling that we must have missed something. What we miss is the part of life that makes it worth living. Being alive means looking around, taking a breath, and watching the world around us. Whether it is in the company of others or in our quiet corner of the house, life is around us. In the warmth of the early morning sun. In the cold stare of Orion as he marches in the winter sky. Life is everywhere. Each step forward, backward, sideways takes us somewhere new. Each step is an opportunity to give meaning to the lives of others. And in so doing, give meaning to our own lives.
I’ve always wanted to take a picture of a kingfisher diving and getting a fish. I stood around watching this kingfisher on a tree. It was fairly far, but I figured with some post processing I can get a decent picture of the bird catching a fish. I stood in a spot for twenty minutes. The kingfisher perched on a branch the whole time. Which tells you that I wasn’t that close to this skittish creature. Suddenly, the bird flew off the branch. Not towards the water and a fish, but towards me. Oh, I got a picture off. Turns out a kingfisher, head on, has little contrast between the grey and white colors of the feathers and the grey beak. And even though the shutter speed was at 1/2500 of a second, it was barely fast enough to stop the motion. More practice needed. And here is the kingfisher, calm as can be, a few minutes before it flew my way.
I edited the branches out of the picture. One day, the bird will be close enough, not be scared, and perch on a branch that is clear of obstructive details. Until then, post processing, when it doesn’t change the actual details too much, will have to do.
We choose, for ourselves, the life we live. Personal choices. Personal responsibility.