Only with Machines

lillypages

Aki and return to the Outer Point trail where early morning sunlight dapples the old growth and lilies on a beaver pond. A male varied thrush waits for us at the edge of a muskeg meadow. He is doing the thrush/robin good parent thing: dangling himself in front of the little dog like a wooly bugger fly drifted across the noise of a trout. Aki ignores the bird so it comes closer. It flies down the trail when I walk toward it but not far. The thrush breaks back to his starting place when we move out of his nest’s privacy zone.

thrush

More woods and then we reach the beach. I scan for a grazing black bear on the strip of new growth grass across the bay. I look over the waters near Shaman Island for the black back of a surfacing humpback whale. But only a crow calling attention to itself with a raw call fills the void. The bright sunlight diminishes its blackness. Pondering the absence of animals, I blindly walk under a heron’s roost, flushing the wide winged bird.

ducks

Down beach I force myself to sit and just watch scoters and their brother fish ducks work the flooded tidelands. Some paddle forward with their beaks submerged. The scoters snap their heads under, followed quickly by their bodies. “It’s only to be able to identify them later,” I tell myself as I point the barrel of my old camera at the working birds. Now I’m clicking, not observing—attention on light and focus, not on the striking pattern of white blocks on a Barrow goldeneye’s black wing.

Home, on the computer, I enlarge my birdshots; learn that I had been documenting a red breasted merganser couple, surf scoters, and a small raft of party color harlequin ducks. The later dived each time I pointed the camera at them. It’s ironic that only now, on this machine, can I grasp their beauty.

cabbage

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