Remembering the Connection
I've been down for a few weeks with a bad ankle. I sprained it on a normal day, walking on the sidewalk, no snow, no ice...I just happened to miss a step and went down hard. The road burn I got on my knees and elbows was painful, but the most damage happened to my ankle. And with the snow, and frozen tundra out there, getting out and about in nature just hasn't been wise while I let my ankle heal.
Without that daily or almost daily exposure to the outside world, It's been easy to get down and depressed. Nature is my connection. The world outside where I can smell the pines, and hear the birds is what keeps me going day to day. So weeks with just quick trips into the back yard with the dogs were just not feeding my soul in the way that I need to keep me even keeled and sane... let alone enough to be inspired to make art.
But today I woke to a swollen but virtually pain free ankle. Literally the first day in weeks that I didn't hobble out of the bedroom like Ozzy Osbourne in a drunken stupor. I took the hint the universe sent me. I wrapped up my ankle, put on my strongest day hikers, grabbed my camera and left. I knew a long hike probably wasn't wise, but I needed to feel the ground under my feet and see what the recently arrived birds were up to.
My first stop was Beaver Brook, where I often see great birds this time of year. Today a single male mallard swam about quacking for his mate. I stayed for a bit to see if anyone else appeared, but it was a cold morning and no one else joined me.
Next stop was a little pond near the house. I parked and got out and walked the small parking lot to a chorus of red winged blackbirds. Males screaming and dive bombing each other. I moved around and got some great shots and really enjoyed the mud under my feet. As I scanned the water for movement, I saw a small group of black ducks and then something - BIG - REALLY BIG - in my peripheral vision. An osprey was circling. The first of the season! For me they are always a treat. I took a few blurry, long distance shots, and waited while he circled, hoping I might get to see him dive for his breakfast. But after a few times around the pond he flew off for better waters. Even so, I was grateful to have timed my visit so perfectly so that I could witness his (very hungry looking) beauty for the first time this season.
Next stop was my usual haunt at a local conservation property. I got out and walked and enjoyed more red wings, watched a number of song sparrows flit about, and revelled at the way the flock of robins walked almost in formation together accross the meadow.
Looking at the time I realized I needed to get back and get serious about getting to work, so back in the car I went. Being the nature photographer that I am, I am always searching high and low even while driving. I've trained myself to be able to spot birds at a distance, I've gotten some great shots by following my instincts when I see a particular shape far away in a tree.
Today was one of those days. Almost to my street I noticed a large dark teardrop shape in a tree. That shape only means one thing to me. A large bird. And probably a raptor. I pulled over, put on my hazards and walked a couple hundred feet. And then spent a good twenty minutes with the beautiful, healthy looking bald eagle who's photo appears in this post. He and I had a few eye to eyes before he decided that a gray squirrel was getting too close for comfort. With a giant stretch of his wings, he jumped and glided over the partially frozen lake like a ghost.
The universe called me out this morning and I am more than grateful. I am energized and motivated, and I know that right outside my door there is beauty, and mystery. and I have only begun to scratch the surface of how important joining forces with it really is.