Enjoy the Travel Series, Birdwatcher Series, Species Spotlights and more observations from nature.
I was blessed this week to go from seeing the beautiful butterflies in my own backyard to those on the East Coast. Aside from the butterflies in the backyard of the home where I was staying, New Quarter Park in Williamsburg, Virginia has planted a very large butterfly field – including over 130 milkweed plants upon which Monarchs rely. It was here that I found myself surrounded by butterflies and dragonflies.
What the butterflies taught me this week:
If it’s still spring or summer where you are, you might consider wandering out to see how many butterfly varieties you can find. What do you see? How many patterns can you find on their wings? Don’t forget about the patterns on their bodies. Are their antennae different colors from their bodies and wings? What colors are their eyes? What else might you learn from and about them? If it’s fall or winter where you are, don’t despair! You might use this time to start planning how you could attract these gorgeous and welcome distractions to your surrounds in the spring. Happy butterfly dreams ….
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, front to back. 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 where I sat 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. 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 3d rental that I used for the shots that week.....
Thank you, 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……
Have you stepped outside into nature today? Have you even stepped outside of your brain and the swirl of thoughts rushing through it? These thoughts keep us in a stressed, overwhelmed state of being. Nature grounds us, bringing us back into the present moment like nothing else. And even if you live in a condo, apartment, or otherwise feel you’re surrounded by concrete, you’ve likely got a neighborhood park just a short hop away. In fact, recently I was in Taipei, Taiwan on business and was delighted to discover, thanks to new friends, a beautiful park full of tropical birds just awaiting our visit. And this past week, content to be in my own backyard, there was so much going on that pulled me out of the stresses of work and into a more serene, peaceful state:
With all of this entertainment, who needs TV? ;-)
Remember to take the time to get out and experience what’s happening in your own proverbial backyard. And, if all else fails, close your eyes, breathe deeply, and enjoy a moment of peace to prepare for the coming week …..