She looks like a seraphic white dove from a distance. Up close and in profile, like a fuzzy, green-eyed, hump-backed teddy bear. Head-on, like a cross-eyed, comical what-is-it. She’s always laughing, or so it appears. She’s my new favorite friend of the fluttery kind, and I almost missed her.
In fact, I almost missed it all. I’ll show her to you in a little bit, but first let me explain…
It was a gazillion degrees outside.
I had gravel in my flip-flops.
I was totally ticked off because it just wasn’t “happening for me,” photography-wise. I’d spotted a kingfisher perched politely on a bare branch on the opposite shore of the narrow lake, but by the time I got to that side, the kingfisher had gone fishing – elsewhere. Just then a dainty green heron lowered her wings and hooked a tree with her talons on the side of the lake I’d just come from. It seemed a wry taunt. I was not amused.
So here I was, in foul humor, limping hurriedly along to the next site I deemed having potential for that “one good shot,” frustrated and full of myself, when a voice in my head (yeah, I hear those) clearly chided,
“You just missed one thousand things.”
I wasn’t in the mood for reprimands even from myself, so picked up my pace just for spite, but the voice was insistent. Crap. I KNOW that voice. It’s often right. Grudgingly, I set my camera bag down, fished out my macro lens to replace the telephoto I’d been sporting apparently, and solely, for the arm-workout the weight of it ensures.
I slowed down. Then stopped. I closed my eyes and listened.
And then, sure enough…… ONE THOUSAND THINGS.
Okay, more like dozens, since I’d likely already passed at least 900 of them in my haste. DOZENS went whirring or rustling or slithering or fluttering or gliding or ambling by and around me. Humble things, modest in size, but packed to the gills, the pinions, fur and scales with interest and beauty.
I had wanted to be the big shot photo-huntress, come back to camp with shots of raptors and snakes, white-tailed deer and shore birds, strutting in like a Navajo hunter with a trophy elk hide slung over his shoulder.
Instead (and I thank God for this), I sat down in a field of native prairie grasses taller than I, and listened to the stories the goldfinches, the red-winged blackbirds, the passionflowers and dragonflies were telling. I counted big-eyed skippers and lost track at 162, I laid on my back in the near-blooming goldenrod and listened to Earth’s breath, felt Her pulse.
After the voice and before another hour had passed, I had honestly seen hundreds of things I’d missed….some external, some within. So the question I’m scattering out here as seed is….what are YOUR “one thousand things?”
Are they the myriad expressions that pass across your child or grandchild’s face as a new revelation softly assaults their eager minds? Are they the subtle, unspoken ways your lover or spouse communicates to you your hallowed place in his/her life? Are you missing them while still looking for the “BIG birds?” Are they the ways the ocean waves curl and foam at your feet, inviting you to recognize your body’s kinship to the elements, being largely comprised, itself, of water? The personal satisfaction and self-confidence your work brings to you?
Will you slow down, pay attention, be informed, maybe even TRANSformed?
Here is the dove/bear/what-is-it I promised to tell you about earlier. Isn’t she delightful? She’s a flower moth of some sort (Schinia), though I haven’t been able to determine if she’s a unimacula, a luxa or a buta.
Doesn’t matter ….she’s just one of a thousand things I almost missed.
(Click on any photo to enlarge. Do you see what’s hiding in the next to last photo? She’s the Queen of Camo!)
When the thermometer reads 100 degrees and the heat index is 110, going on an outdoor excursion willingly is bordering on the ridiculous, yes? I mean, who does this?! I do. But — red-faced, dripping with sweat (and not the kinda cute, girly kind of perspiration in a soft row just above the lips, but the in-your-eyes, bra-soaking, rolling-off -your-chin kind of sweat!) — I scored some sweet treasures.
Not five minutes into my foray, I made the acquaintance of this little fellow:
An American Snout-Nose Butterfly. Not all that common in gardens, I understand, except in years when a heavy rain is preceded by drought conditions, and then there’s a baby boom like you wouldn’t believe… no one knows for certain why, though there’s speculation that it’s because the hackberry shrubs, on which the larvae feed, send out so many new shoots that it’s feast time — until it’s not. And when that happens, the Jimmy Durantes of the butterfly world migrate. It’s not an organized, tidy migration like the monarchs manage, but a messy, devil-may-care one, in which no one seems to have a clear idea where they’re going. Presumably they’re going to find more hackberry shrubs. Wherever. And when they do, they fill the skies like snow flurries.
Case-in-point: Tuscon, Arizona, August 9th of 1966… a flock of migrating Snouts blackened the sky, squeezing out the sunlight until the street lights had to be turned on. Auto owners had to scrape thick layers of wings and noses from their windshields and grills that night, which makes me sad. Fortunately, my new S.N. friend was fully intact and cordial, posing for me at various angles: right-side up, up-side down, and mashed vertically against a twig, pretending to be a dead leaf, which I applauded for its comedic value.
This lovely lady was shrub-sharing with the Snout, two kids from different sides of the tracks.
To be honest, by this time I was hoping to bow out and hit the road…Had already been kamakazied by I don’t know HOW many Japanese Beetles, my sweat-soaked skin was becoming a bee magnet, and my ankles were being bitten by something hungry and indiscriminate.
But gardens are a tease, if you haven’t noticed… just about the time you sling that camera bag over your shoulder and fish for your car keys, something whistles or sings, something rustles in the grass, something catches a glint of sun and flings it back in your face, and the stage is set for a new show you’re hell-bent to watch. And so I did, and without complaint.
Had I wimped out on the rest of the walk, THIS is something I would have missed:
So okay, I’ll take the sun beating on my head like a mallet, the sting of the nettle, the bite of the chigger…The trade-off is more than a fair one, and I knew going into this that nature is not for wimps.