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#WordlessWednesday 3

#WordlessWednesday3

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The first day of Autumn at Presqu’ile…

the first day of Autumn

The signs of fall were everywhere yesterday in the park, at odds with the hot (a very humid 26℃) and sunny weather. I met and chatted with a couple from north of Montreal who are camping in the park for the second time this year. They told me they were having a wonderful time – the weather and the birds are both much better now than they were in late-July. They’re loving it. And so was I.

This was my picnic view:

picnic

If I’d had my bathers I’d have been stretched out on that smooth, warm stone catching some rays!

This boat passed my location, quite far out from shore. It was going at quite a clip and I shot it because I wanted to ask Cam what country’s flag it was flying, but it was not until I’d downloaded the image that I saw the gull. About ten minutes after it had disappeared from view, the boat’s wash reached the shore, waves crashing against the stone where I sat. It had been so long since the boat passed that the waves took me by surprise. So, the flag… It is very similar to (but not) the flags of The Falkland Islands, Turks and Caicos, British Virgin Islands and St. Helena. Cam did not recognize the flag – can anyone help us out, please?

Race ya!

“Race ya!

Everyone knows how much I love my swans; I’ve named them all and I’ve enjoyed learning their individual characteristics, personalities really. Despite my enjoyment, I do understand the three chief concerns they pose to the park’s ecosystem – that they are not native to this area, that the park is over-populated with them and that cygnus are aggressive and territorial, often driving away birds that are native to the area and that rely on its wetlands for survival. Example, the Giant Egret:

Arch-enemies

Arch enemies sizing each other up.

This is turtle-hatching season and babies are appearing all over the park. No matter how many hatchlings I see, I am always amazed at how small they are when they begin their life, and that right from the moment they hatch they fend for themselves, and that no matter how far from the water Mum lays her eggs, the kiddos always instinctively know where the water is, how to get there and to get there quickly. Pure amazingness. At Calf Pasture Point yesterday I saw this young ‘un, dubbed “Muffy” sunning herself on a branch… Daughter of Flower Child, perhaps? Whilst I was watching her, she lost her balance and slipped off and, despite valiant effort, could not regain purchase and swam away. Hard to tell from this shot but she is about the size of a big muffin.

Muffy

Also at Calf Pasture Point, um, two if by… Branch? This is a popular gathering spot for the ducks and geese every autumn – another sign that, weather notwithstanding, fall has indeed arrived.

Two if by - branch?

That was the end of my first fall adventure; that pesky fever defeated me yet again! Still, a short and very sweet interlude.

This tickled my funny bone… Yesterday, on my way home from the park I saw an elderly couple, riding in an elderly convertible. Top down. Natch! They were exiting the D.Q. drive-thru, cones in hand. Both beaming from ear to ear. From the D.Q. driveway, they immediately turned right into the Timmy’s driveway (the two restaurants are next-door neighbours) and directly into the Tim’s drive-thru. Ice cream and coffee. Yum! I only hope Cam and I are filled with the same joie de vivre at that age!

This week marked the always bittersweet beginning of Fall. May you be surrounded by abundant beauty as autumn unfolds.

Signs of Fall

‘Til next time, y’all…

Still summer at the shores…

Still summer cover

Gosh, it’s a beautiful day today; as I drive by the gatehouse, it is a very humid 24℃ here at Presqu’ile Provincial Park; the sun is shining brightly, and there is a refreshing breeze, scented vaguely with lake funk. Summer lives on!

8-Wing was doing maneuvers today; a constant drone from the big engines. Contrary to most folk, and oddly to be sure, I find that sound peaceful. And reassuring, somehow.

8-Wing

Happy Birthday Mitzi! Technically it’s her half birthday this week, but any excuse for a party, non? Mitzi and I celebrated with a picnic in the park today (she enjoys egg sammies just as much as me). Little known fact: Mitzi LOVES Presqu’ile. That’s why we’ve become BFFs for life!

#MitziInThesun

Still #MitziInTheSun…

Seriously, y’all, Mitzi Bytes is a thoroughly enjoyable read, cover to cover, even more-so the second time through. I highly recommend that if you’ve not yet read it you pick up a copy and indulge yourself in this delightful story. Also recommended by the Peonies – they loved it and are lobbying the Roses to add it to our reading list.  Our July 2018 read?

In case you’ve not yet met the Roses and the Peonies:

The Unruly Garden

Ohmigosh! There are a lot of flies by the shore today. Tons. I have liberally anointed myself with Off Deep Woods yet they are completely undeterred. But do you know what they don’t like? Hand sanitizer, of all things. I’m literally dripping with it and – at the moment – I’m a no-fly zone. Yay! Don’t judge.

I have a lot of reading to do today but I’m constantly distracted by crashing, thrashing and smashing noises coming out of the woods beside my picnic table. I guessed it might be a racoon, but then this wee face poked through the foliage:

wee face

Of course I chuckled, but still, I found it amazing that such a tiny, slender body could make so much noise. He was coy, this wee fellow. He kept peeking out to see if I was watching him and then retreating back into the bush. Peeking and retreating. His dance lasted nearly half an hour, then this:

chippie

You know, birders and wildlife photographers are always searching for the rare, the exotic, the hard-to-find creatures, and believe you me, the reward for getting such a find – nicely focussed and framed – is a high beyond compare. In truth, however, the real wonderment for me comes with intimate encounters; when the animal sees and evaluates me and my lens and still comes close. In those moments, I feel I’ve been given a gift, like I’ve had an experience all unto myself. This has happened three times already this year, first with a muskrat, then with a deer and today with this little chap.

In one of my worlds, perhaps my favourite world, we tweet and post #WildlifeWednesdays as we share the pictures we’ve taken that day. Although I needed to do a certain amount of reading today, I watched for as many animals as I could find to tweet in support of the park and to share just how much fun can be had on that almost-island.

Barely inside the loop, driving through the woods, I saw these two lovelies:

In time, they let me get quite close, but no further. These shots will appear quite small on my blog page (sorry) so I don’t know if you can see this detail, but the adult’s fur is quite sketchy; rubbed off against tree bark trying to get comfort from the many mosquitoes plaguing the park this damp year.

Then, at lunch, there was the chippie, plus this fisherman:

fisherman

I never leave the park without a trip down Atkins’ Lane to Calf Pasture Point and the lagoon (called the cove by park staff – like they know!). The first thing I noticed was the regatta and the flotilla:

regatta

There’s always a frog somewhere in the reeds:

frog

But the pièce de résistance for me was Flower Child. She’s obscured by the reeds and there was no path to a clear shot, but still – irresistible:

Flower Child

It was a truly lovely escape from my house where I’ve been turtling the past few days, trying – for once and for all – to defeat this awful virus. As well as feeling grateful for today’s experience I am mindful of all the destruction that earthquakes and hurricanes are wreaking on our neighbours and friends to the south. I have a very close and dear friend who lives in Mexico City. She and her kiddos survived the quake but are without power and water and are frightened by the series of aftershocks. I am very worried for her safety and her family’s safety too. In many ways it feels so wrong that I had such a perfect day whilst so many people are facing the opposite. There are lots of ways to give to help the victims. If you are in a position to help out, there are some links below to speed you on your way. Thank you.

’Til next time, y’all…

Global Medic:  https://globalmedic.ca/donate/

Red Cross Canada:   https://donate.redcross.ca/ea-action/action?ea.client.id=1951&ea.campaign.id=56787&type=single&amount=0&langpref=en-CA&_ga=2.111393287.2059377480.1505996790-1221893301.1505996790 

Red Cross USA:  https://www.redcross.org/donate/hurricane-irma-donations?campname=irma&campmedium=aspot

Hand in Hand:  https://donate.handinhand2017.com

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Megan’s Seeds

DSC_3738

“Life is a series of mind moments, each one a new creation. Every moment we inherit something from our past, transform it in our present experience, and thereby seed the consequences of our future.”
[Andrew Olendzki]

If you could, at this moment in time, intentionally plant the seeds for your desired future consequences, what would they be, do you suppose? Would you want to learn something new? Strengthen, renew or repair a relationship? Would it be something creative, artistic? Would you keep a diary, journal? Volunteer? Would philanthropy be an option? What about travel? Would you change your lifestyle? If your imagination had no limits imposed, neither financial nor physical, what would you do, where would you go, who would you share it with? So many possibilities…

The back-to-school qualia typically imbues the entire month of September with preparation and anticipation in my mind, even forty years after completing my formal education. I’m never able to avoid purchasing stationery supplies of one form or another. This year it was three notebooks and a new pen. Irresistible! These are some of my favourite moments to inherit something from my past.

This year, the kernel of Septembers past was transformed in my present experience by the delightful Meg Murphy on My FM Radio, the station we tune in every morning before we leave the house. Earlier this month, Meg said (and this may not be her precise wording): “September always makes me want to learn something new.” This year, she is learning sign language. Meg’s comment reminded me that learning something new has always been every inch the fuel of my anticipation when September arrives, and at the top of my list at the moment is learning new photography skills; every time I am out shooting it becomes apparent that there is an endless list of those skills I have yet to master.

Prompted by Meg’s learning reference, I gave a lot of thought to my desired future consequence. Having been lucky enough in the past year to have taken two quite specialized photography courses, I’ve decided I now want to learn more about my gear. I want to become more than capable with my equipment – I want to know every single function, all technical specs, optimum function of each piece and how each best works in concert with my other equipment. In short I wish to become an expert. Virtuoso, if you will, on all things Nikon. (At least all the Nikon pieces I own.) No small task! It will require a lot of very dedicated learning on my part. Then there’s my planned acquisition which will come complete with its own steep learning curve. I am upgrading my tripod (greater payload), replacing my flat pan-tilt head with a ball head and – drum roll please – splurging on a gimbal head. I am über-excited!

tripod.001

My current tripod head.

Most tripods, especially older ones like mine have flat pan-tilt heads which are nominally priced making them a practical choice for all uses except long (heavy) wildlife and sports lenses. Lens movement is controlled by three screws (blue arrows) which allow tilting left/right and up/down and swivelling. With a heavy lens, one hand has to support the lens whilst the adjustment is made by loosening/tightening the cranks, all the while trying to keep the bird/animal/bug, etc., in the frame, in focus, respecting the lead room rule, etc., etc., etc. This is neither a quick nor an easy process. You can picture me struggling now can’t you? And you’re smiling at my clumsy efforts too, aren’t you? Enter the gimbal head. A gimbal allows smooth, constant, unrestricted motion on a perfectly balanced support so that once the subject is successfully framed, the photographer can let go and neither the camera nor lens move. It’s a genius invention and I am about to have one of my own. Squee!!!

Learning is definitely the order of the day, week, month, year… I suspect and hope I’ll be forever learning, and not just about my camera gear.

Thanks, Meg, for planting the seeds!

’Til next time, y’all…

 

Act III

Version 2

As all my lovely regulars know, two years ago my life changed dramatically due to two health issues. The first, the most significant (to me, if not to my doctors), the happiest and the most life-altering difference – I no longer dialyse. Meaning I have four “found” days every week. Every. Week. One might even say I have a whole new life. Everyone I know and talk to has just a wee bit more busyness in their lives than they want and for some, a bit more than they can manage. If that’s you, imagine you could miraculously add four extra days onto every week and you’ll have an inkling of how I’ve felt ever since June of 2015. Those four days are a gift beyond compare, I feel blessed, enormous gratitude, and a sense of responsibility to get this new chapter of my life right.

Earlier this month Graydon Carter, the sixty-eight years young Canadian journalist who has helmed Vanity Fair for the past twenty-five years, announced that he was leaving the magazine. On his pending exodus from the coveted editor’s position Mr. Carter said:

“I wanted to have a third act. And I thought, time is precious.”

Two simple sentences that reveal so much about a man most would consider beyond retirement age: Wishes, enthusiasm, anticipation, ambition, planning and the desire for the freedom to choose a new path.

A third act! Isn’t that everything? That’s exactly how I have been feeling for the past two years but I’d never thought of it in such eloquent terms. I have a third act!

Act III has been my chance to chart a new course using my highest intentions, to orchestrate and prioritize all the elements I’ve chosen to include in my life. To refocus. I have a strong desire to learn more about Buddhism and to improve my daily meditation practice. I want to become a kinder person in every respect. Of course my third act prominently features photographic endeavours – using a variety of cameras, lenses, locations, subjects and post-processing techniques, learning more about each along the way, and sharing my images with my family and friends. And always love. Recent events in my circle of friends have taught me that time is, indeed, very precious. I want to love Cam to bits and pieces. To demonstrate that love every day, always. I want him to know without any doubts that he is very well-loved, adored and cherished. I want to share my love with my family, my extended family and my friends because I want them to know how important they are to me and how much they are treasured.

“I wanted to have a third act. And I thought, time is precious.”

‘Til next time, y’all…