I haven’t been feeling very well the last several days. The biggest bummer is that I’m having a lot of trouble sleeping. My fatigue just seems to make everything I try to accomplish so much harder. Like swimming in molasses. To compound the problem, my mood has been pretty contrary as well. I don’t know if anyone else can relate to this… but there are certain things that never fail to improve my state-of-mind, yet sometimes I stupidly avoid doing them. I’m really not sure why… I suppose it’s the adult equivalent of having a bit of a tantrum. Things aren’t going my way, so I temporarily just stubbornly refuse to let anyone or anything make it better. So, anyway, I’ve been struggling with this and when it came time to do my blog post today, I just didn’t want to do it. I wasn’t coming up with any good ideas and the whole process was starting to feel really excruciating. Finally, I decided to give in. I did the one thing that never fails to clear my head and put things in perspective. I put on my shoes and went outside, determined that I would just do what I always do — look for something beautiful or extraordinary and photograph it. Then, when I came back home, I would simply post whatever I found and not think too much more about it.
I couldn’t have walked more than about 5 minutes from my house when I stopped to listen to the birds, absorbing the sounds that I love so well. California Quail whooping and popping in the bushes. Phainopepla doing a perfect impersonation of water slowly dripping from a faucet. The happy twittering of a small flock of Bushtit trickling through the underbrush. Something caught my eye in the tangle of young olive trees ahead and I instinctively lifted my camera. I had just enough time to process the shape of an immature Cooper’s Hawk, looking a bit startled at being discovered. I wasn’t even sure if I had the bird framed in the viewfinder, but I knew it was “now or never” and I pressed the shutter just before the hawk sailed over my head. I took only one shot and this was it:
I relaxed, knowing that I had at least one wonderful image to share when I got home. I eased into the feeling of just being outdoors. I took a deep breath and felt more and more of my funky mood slipping away. I spied a Mourning Dove perched high in the spindly branches at the top of a eucalyptus. The bird and branch swayed side-to-side in the strong canyon breeze. The trunk creaked like an old boat in the wind, and the mass of leaves below the bird quivered and rippled like big green waves. I decided to test if lightning would strike twice and I framed the bird in the lens and waited patiently to see if I could catch a flight image. The dove stayed stoically still, eyeballing me and cocking its head, but not budging. Then, I saw a flicker of movement and reflexively pressed the shutter. Miraculously, I captured this wonderful hummer who zipped in for a split second to investigate the dove and then was gone!
A smile couldn’t help but spread across my face and I grinned foolishly up at the dove. Let’s try this one more time, I said. The dove made me wait awhile before finally flapping noisily over to another branch a few feet away — but I got the shot! Not only that, but I got a second one when it finally had enough of me and flew off that perch as well.
I’m still exhausted (more now than before I went out) and I’m yawning as I write this. But, I’m feeling peaceful and content inside. Tantrum over. Lesson learned. When nothing seems to be working and everything feels harder than it should — go outside, let go, and enjoy what comes!