Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Spectacular Occasions

I walk every day, often in the same places. I know these places pretty well: I remember the exact spot where I realized that dragonflies were not just one thing and where I saw my first and only Painted Skimmer and where I collapsed in front of an Arrowhead Spiketail and when I knew that I was obsessed with All Saints' Chapel and the Univeristy Farm Hoophouse, and . . . . But it's more: it's also the first two photographs I took here in Sewanee that reminded me of the good photographs I made as a young adult in North Carolina, Alabama, and Louisiana with film cameras.

But then there are spectacular moments, like the one I had today at Abbo's Alley.

I went there only because it was close and I was worried about the weather. I took one of the usual paths and decided to cross a concrete beam (not really a bridge, per se) to peek under one of my favorite bridges. I thought I might get a good shot. Instead, while I looked, I noticed a violently shaking small plant at the edge of the water. I looked and looked and finally lifted my camera (the one fitted with a lens that extends no further than 280mm, alas, and has no auto flash) and looked through the lens. An exuvia! And then a white face! A dragonfly!

I watched some dragonfly (large, I could tell) move work its way with difficulty and determination to another plant, one more open, even closer to the water, with open space for large wings. I studied both banks below me, both quite steep, both completely covered with vegetation. No walking stick, of course. I decided to risk it and crossed back to the path where I started. From across the stream, I could tell I was watching a Gray Petaltail, but the light was so poor and the lens so short that I couldn't really shoot the bug. I crossed over again and sort of slid down the bank as far as I could without falling forward into rocks and stream and watched and snapped (although at an extremely high ISO, so the pictures are grainy in the extreme).

I ran home, looked at the images, adjusted two, uploaded them to my Facebook Southeastern Odes group, and then learned that most group friends had never before seen this ode emerge. The conversation was as enjoyable as the sight.

Some days, like this one, I am reminded of just how lucky I am to have found something I love doing -- taking pictures of things that are hard to photograph and learning everything I can about them and interacting joyfully with like-minded people. May there be other such occasions.

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