I have never seen such a lovely garden. A meandering path through lush foliage, and a surprise around every turn. It was the fun meet and greet before our photo walk last Saturday night. I could have gotten lost, happily lost. And I could have taken many more pictures, it deserved to be a destination all it’s own. We were told we could take photographs and post them wherever we like. I thought that was an excellent idea!And oh, by the way, I took most of these as single photos, but I had heard that Easy HDR would convert those also. Must have worked because I can’t remember which was which.
Nature photography is new to me. For years I thought that cameras were for taking pictures of the grandchildren only, so in a sense I’ve reinvented myself as far as photography goes. Taking photos of sunsets and butterflies are one thing, always beautiful, but a trip to Chinsegut Conservation Center provides more than just the obvious photo ops. A locust chrysalis, which I would never have spotted if it hadn’t been pointed out to me, isn’t pretty, but in reviewing my photos from my trip there it’s the chrysalis that’s on my mind.
Seeing it made me think how nice it might be to just shed your outer, worn out, and thoroughly abused self, and re-emerge as a newer, fresher, you. Or me. But knowing what you know now so you don’t make the same mistakes over again. Reinventing yourself so as to face a world that reinvented itself while we were busy and not paying attention. A world that dotes on youth isn’t such a friendly place these days. I know I’m not the only one who feels like I’m the same person I always was, but better really because getting older really does make you wiser. Easier on yourself. But you don’t look better, just older, and stepping out into the world, this crazy youth-worshipping world, when you left your own youth behind years ago, leaves you where, exactly?
I’ve spent the last three years at home, telling myself that I was happy, but in reality I was using the house as a chrysalis, hiding, safe, because I didn’t know what else to do. And telling myself that I was happy, and loving the privacy. No witnesses, except the dogs and they don’t judge. And now I think wait a minute, is this all I want or need for the rest of my life? And I imagine various Hallmark movie scenarios of what life could be. Then I walk past a mirror and think, who are you kidding?
Mother Nature gets it, at least as far as locusts go. When they have become worn and tired, and have been buffeted around by life a while, they can just shuck their old shell and reemerge as a new and improved version. I’m thinking that I wish people could do the same thing…
Could anything ever be worse than being at a high school dance, sitting in the bleachers, alone? She remembered the moment so well. She saw the boy walking toward the bleachers, she knew who he was, a boy who had caught her eye as really cute, one grade above hers, and he was walking towards the bleachers, toward her, but of course he couldn’t actually be walking toward ME she thought. He asked her to dance, and she looked around behind her to see who he was talking to. But he was talking to her, and if there was any chance to impress him with how cool she was she had already blown it by the time she got up to dance. That was it, their moment, one dance, and her insecurities had undermined her.
Flash forward 54 years and she was out for the sunset photos one night not too long ago, a night which happened to include a lot of activity and a pretty sunset at the beach. She was wandering around, enjoying the extra commotion, and taking lots of pictures. As she began to drift toward the parking lot she heard a voice ask if she had gotten any nice pictures. She looked up to see a nice looking man in a Michigan cap, smiling at her. They chatted about all that was going on at the beach that evening, and about the pretty sunset that was winding down. He had come to FL to be with his father through the recent hurricane, he said, and was going to be there a few more days. It was nice, like a lot of nice conversations she enjoyed when she was out. As she began to leave she thought about that, that she had often had these nice conversations with people and then just walked away. But then he extended his hand to her and introduced himself. His hand was warm, and she told him her name. He said he would really like to continue the conversation… and she turned into the 15 year old in the bleachers, trying to figure out if the cute guy in front of her was asking her to dance. What happened next was an adrenaline rush that blindsided her, and she started laughing. Really, it was ridiculous, but she couldn’t do a thing about it. This sort of thing didn’t happen to her. She had been alone for three years, and she told herself she actually liked being alone, being on her own, making her own decisions. She hadn’t been looking for more. They did meet for several more sunsets, but now yet another nice ‘moment’ of sorts had passed. But some moments leave a lasting impression, and this one certainly had. It made her question her insistence that she was totally happy on her own, that there was no room for anything else in her life, that this independence was all she wanted for herself. Maybe, just maybe, there was room for more after all. Or maybe there would never be another moment like it, but even so she would smile when she remembered it, and for now the adrenaline rush hadn’t quite worn off…
Not too long ago I wondered why I wasn’t seeing pelicans when I was out for sunset photos. I had enjoyed seeing them on my first visit to this area when my son got married here, a very long time ago. Then I noticed one here and there, but last night they were everywhere. It seemed like every sign had a pelican or two perched on it. And to see them flying low to the water and dipping their bill was fun, but it all happened too fast to try to capture in a photo
. Maybe I need a better camera, or a better photographer. Still, it was a nice Pine Island evening. With an extra photo of the sunset from the night before thrown in. Is that cheating? Maybe…This is from the night before. I thought I must have adjusted it out of all reality, and then I saw a photo by my friend Rosie, taken the same night from the neighboring beach, and this really is what we saw.
Hammond’s Creek Bridge as a destination for a sunrise/sunset photo shoot probably sounds more impressive than it really is. You take a winding, two lane, country road around a couple of near hairpin turns until you come to a bridge that spans a creek, and you are there. The bridge is wide enough that there is room enough to pull off in each direction, probably for fishermen to fish from the bridge. You can stand on one side of the bridge for a very nicely composed sunrise shot, or you could cross the road for an equally nice sunset shot. It is quiet, and for the most part solitary, which makes an early morning photo shoot a bit scary when you hear a splash into the water. Probably a fish, but I confess that I wondered about alligators when I was there the first time and the splash sounded so loud. Alligators probably creep silently, but I didn’t think of that then. And a nearby rooster announcing the sunrise adds a certain ambiance.
The sunset hour has the fishermen bringing their boats back into the little launch area just beyond the bridge. They throw scraps to the seagulls who circle the area in a frenzy, making for nice images against the sunset colors. But that was last time I’d been there for a sunset. Before I had a nice zoom lens. And that’s the mental image that caused me to go back to this bridge for a sunrise and sunset recently. After all the rain I thought that boaters would have taken advantage of a nice day and surely had taken their boats out and would be retuning. But not this time. No, not fancy, but it’ll do…
She had seen the man before. Older than her, she thought, though that had become a tough call only because it was hard to remember just how old she had become. They attended the same church service, and he usually walked past the pew where she sat and joined a younger man sitting several pews ahead of her. She had noticed this younger man also, but because of his toupee. Her husband used to announce “rug alert” whenever he spotted a toupee, and though her husband wasn’t there the first time she spotted that toupee she heard him announce it in her ear just the same. The older man would join him, and they would greet each other and chat before the service began. This was the normal routine for many weeks, until the younger man no longer appeared.
After that the older man would look a little forlorn to her, as he searched the pews with his eyes and eventually sat in his regular pew, alone. Until the week that he joined her, sitting on her left and saying hello. He introduced himself, a tad loudly, she thought, and she assumed that everyone around them were hearing the conversation also. She told him her name, and he responded by asking her where she lived. Odd, she thought, as she responded with her general neighborhood. But when he announced, rather proudly, that he lived in a fancy private community she realized that he was sizing her up. “You live alone?” he asked, and nodded knowingly when she answered yes. “Your husband passed away?” He was still nodding and looking sympathetic when she again answered, yes.
He then announced, rather gruffly she thought, “I have a wife. She’s a pain in the ass!” He proceeded to tell her that he was a ‘clean’ man, one who hangs up his clothes and doesn’t throw them on the floor. Which made her smile to herself because she herself was one to leave a wake of chaos in her path. They ascertained that they both were Italian, which seemed to be a point in her favor. And he spoke of his friend that he had been sitting with previously, and that he had only known him from church, and that he had suggested that they get together for lunch, but he had always declined. He wondered out loud what had happened to his toupee-d friend, he said he really didn’t know, and suggested that maybe he had found a girlfriend. Changing the subject he said, “After this I take my wife out to lunch. It’s a treat for her, so she doesn’t have to cook,” and she gave him a couple of points in his favor. Until he went on, “We go to Burger King! It only costs $4 for both of us.” She rolled her eyes, but only to herself she hoped. When the service was over he said it had been nice to chat with her, and he’d see her next week.
The next week she made sure to get there early so that she would be in her seat already and wouldn’t have to make an awkward choice of whether to sit with him or not, but she needn’t have been concerned because he wasn’t there. Or wasn’t in his usual spot at least, a relief she thought. But the next week he came in and walked past her pew, as he always used to, and she noticed a slump to his shoulders, and an air of sadness to him, as he seemed to look for his friend, and then took his regular seat, alone.