NatureLog - My Nature & Nature Travel Blog
Animals Through My Traveling Lens
Are you paying attention to who has left and who is arriving in your yard? It may be subtle at first – the numbers diminish little by little. But soon, you’ll realize that you may not have seen a particular species in the backyard for some time. It’s funny – I often find myself a little sad when I don’t see my usual ‘friends’ in the backyard. Then I’ll stop, visualize them on a safe journey north or south, and return to a place of gratitude. Gratitude that:
1 - they spent the winter or summer in our backyard, and
2 - friends from last year – and maybe some new friends – will be arriving soon.
In fact, just the other day, I looked out just in time to catch a glimpse of the gorgeous copper of a Rufous Hummingbird enjoying the red salvia in the garden! It was a first for me and I was thrilled. These little surprises can bring joy into our lives when we make the space for it.
Another surprise encounter in the last week: a Nuttall’s Woodpecker visiting our mealworm suet. I hear and see Nuttalls regularly in our neighborhood while walking the dogs. But never in our backyard. Surprisingly, he clamored through a potato plant to watch the feeder and fight briefly with another bird for a spot at it. This time of year, birds are pairing up, hormones are racing, and little ones need to be fed, so it’s often now that we witness such odd behaviors.
Over the last two years, we also suddenly started having Orange-crowned Warbler visitors. I was delighted to catch a glimpse of one over our Cuphea, then saw it return, make its way through another cuphea plant and before I knew it, fought with the other birds over the mealworm suet. This year, it even dared to take on the hummingbirds, visiting the hummingbird feeder on our patio! I thought I was seeing things. Indeed, another one of this year’s surprises!
Of course, this is a larger metaphor for taking stock of all of the nice surprises and messages in our lives. What magical moment did you have today? How about one that sparked a new idea at some recent point in your life? Maybe you could sit down right now as you read this and think about your last 24 hours. Your last week. Your last month. Just start there – maybe it’s only 2 to 3 things that you recall. That’s ok. Build muscle memory to do this on a daily basis and before you know it, you’ve started your own gratitude journal. In your head or on paper, gratitude is a catalyst for so many good things in life.
"What magical moment did you have today?"
So go ahead. Take stock. Open yourself up to the magic. Maybe it’s that new butterfly who just arrived. Or a new boss who suddenly cares about you and your career. It can literally be anything - from any part of your life. Wherever and whenever, cherish it and build upon it……and let the magic begin!
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When do you get the answers that you need in your life’s journey? Is it when you sleep? In messages through others? Through your intuition? I’ve learned that I receive it through all of the above - and through nature. Lately I have been exploring whether to pursue macro photography. I had recently rented 2 macro lenses to test and had been so disappointed. I learned that being 100% reliant on a tripod and being right on top of my subject matter was not for me. I didn’t want to scare the animals and insects of my fascination, and my camera gear is already heavy and cumbersome when I travel without necessitating a tripod, too. This week, while visiting family on the East Coast, I had rented one final lens before I was going to decide whether to give up my quest.
Arriving on the East Coast, I was exhausted. With a three hour drive to my destination ahead, and only an hour or so of sleep on my overnight redeye flight, it’s 6 am, and I’m asking myself: “What was I thinking taking a redeye?” With just 1 hour left in the drive, we stopped for an hour to wait for my nephew. At wit’s end, irritable, and just ready to be done with this drive is precisely when the magic happened….
I began to notice an odd phenomenon each time we stopped on the drive: a single dragonfly would appear, and would fly back and forth across the car, front to back, back to front. Now stopped on the side of the road awaiting my nephew, 2 things happened: first, an insect resembling a bee flew into the back window, just behind my seat, and just looked at me. Hmmm…. "Is he staring at me out of fear? He doesn't seem to be in any hurry to move away from me." So I gingerly grabbed my camera and took several shots (see above). Then I ever so gently ushered him back out into nature where he belonged.
Then, not one but two dragonflies landed on branches just beside me at the car’s edge. And they just stared at me. Yes – they looked right at me. Feeling confident that any moment they would fly off, I just sat and enjoyed their beauty in this special moment. But they didn’t leave. So again, I pulled out my camera, gingerly stepped out of the car, and began taking pictures. Still, they just sat. After I had snapped what seemed to be 100's of pictures, they flew up – and returned and sat back down in a new position. And again I took numerous shots of their new angles. And so it went on like this – the entire hour we waited for my nephew. Now, you might be thinking, “It’s just coincidence that they landed to charge in the sun at the very moment you pulled up in the car”. Except that they weren’t sitting in the sun. In many cases, I don’t even bother shooting in the sun for the myriad problems it poses in photography. Nope – this was just pure magic. I began to realize that they were perhaps here for another reason: to prove a point to me.
As the week continued and this happened again and again (on my father’s balcony as I walked by, on my father’s porch where I was sitting, on a nearby limb and then a lily pad at a friend’s house where I was visiting), I reflected that these were no coincidences. Macro photography was here to stay in my life, and the dragonflies were going to show me precisely how it was possible – with my existing lens and the third rental that I used for the shots that week..... I also was reminded of something I already new: life's obstacles are in your life for a reason. Embrace them!
I now have profound gratitude for my little "teachers". Thank you, bee and dragonflies – (and thank you to my nephew for taking so awfully long to get ready.) I shall do my very best to remember this “intentional magic” the next time I start to get irritated in life's unappreciated moments, when it is not moving as fast as I'd prefer. I hope that you will, too……
Pamela, Eyes4Nature's proprietor, enjoying life out in the field among the animals and the peacefulness of nature.