Wednesday, August 24, 2011
High Noon with a Great Blue Heron
Dateline Thursday, July 14, 2011, 12PM.
Adirondacks, I set out for Innisfree Garden with my camera, too-short telephoto zoom lens, and binoculars, a bottle of water, floppy hat, and all-important three-legged folding stool ready to be stashed in the pockets of my photog vest. I figured, with my luck of late, the camera would stay slung over my shoulder and the stool stashed, but I consoled myself that Innisfree is always a nice place for a walk.
I had a little trouble getting out of the house that morning. What caused the delay, I don’t recall, but likely nonessential errands that seemed essential at the time. So, as is my wont, I arrived at Innisfree on a beautiful day at high noon. Not exactly, so the lore goes, the best time for watching, let alone photographing, birds.
The parking lot was beginning to fill up. It’s a small lot, but I knew this would decrease my chances. It seems folks actually like to talk as they walk, scattering the birds before them, or sit in chairs and talk near where birds are active. They act as if this were a pretty garden, open to the public, and not untouched wilderness where a solitary hiker hiked in deep and won the right to set up a solitary camp.
Self, I said, the thing is, you’re not a solitary hiker off in the wilderness, but just one of many visitors driving in and parking, with four dollars in hand to pay the entry fee. Self, I said, if you’d set aside those errands you simply had to run, you could have been here when the gates opened and had the garden to yourself a while. So, I said, give it a rest, and enjoy a nice walk on a beautiful day.
My wise counsel to Self taken, I walked downhill to join the path around the lake. At the bottom of the hill, I stopped to take in the view and admire the waterlilies that had come into flower.
And sat. And sat.
They strolled on, the heron entirely forgotten. I censored my thoughts about this interaction and turned my focus back to my bird.
This, of course, was the heron’s cue to fly off. That’s it, I thought. Party's over. I gathered up my water bottle and folded my stool.
Of course, I couldn’t resist responding with the single fact I knew. “Well, they eat frogs, too. But that one went down too smoothly. Must have been a fish.” “Eeeww,” they said, and off they walked. (I filed that away as a good conversation-stopping technique.)
Ah, the great blue heron. Perhaps not rare, but still magnificent: spectacularly prehistoric, yet at the same time intensely modern, as if fashioned by some combination of Picasso and Modigliani.
And every now and then I get a lucky shot.