That time of year

It was four in the morning (yesterday morning) and unlike almost everyone else I knew, I was standing in the dark and rain, down at the ball-fields just off Walker Road.

I had been awake since two and after the kitties all got an early breakfast and I had exhausted all the news and email catching up, I grabbed my camera and hopped in the car for a short two minute drive.

I know it sounds really crazy to be up and moving at that time of day and while in part I agree, I also believe that if you can’t get back to sleep then the better alternative is to get up and do something useful.

Early morning thunder had been rolling through the clouds above while I fed the nine cats and the four baby possums (that moved in underneath the house). So when all the hungry little munchkins had been fed, I stood there for a moment on the driveway and stared up at the clouds.

The soft rain was almost warm but had enough of a chill to refresh this tired face. The cobwebs of sleeplessness washed from my eyes and so my thoughts moved to whether any of this would be worth photographing.

It had been quite a while since lightning storms became a subject of photographs for me, so I felt some degree of excitement and gathered the A77 , which really hadn’t seen the light of day since I moved onto the A7 full frame camera.

I waved goodbye to the cats and left the office door open wide enough that they could come and go while I was gone. Not the most security -conscious decision, I know, but my babies need to not be locked out in the thunder, lightning, and rain.

So, that is how I now found myself taking a light soaking and setting up my camera in the wet and thunderous early morning. I should have driven further and perhaps a better view was from the lake side. But the reality was that I didn’t know how long the light show would last and besides which it mainly played out between the clouds themselves rather than the showman-like spikes that we all like to see in a wild lightning storm.

This weather was more loud rumbling and incessant flashing that turned the dark skies momentarily bright. To my hungry soul it was like manna from heaven and I loved every rumble, every flash.

The photos weren’t mind-blowing or anything. It wasn’t that kind of storm. But they are here at the end of this blog if you would like to check them out.

I struggled with some of the camera controls, trying to remember the differences between the A77 and the A7 and some of my settings were wrong. I also struggled with remembering the optimum settings for shooting lightning in darkness.

If I had planned this instead of just making a last minute decision, I would have been by the lake and the camera and I would have performed better. It was obvious that we were a little too rusty perhaps.

But, as I said, more spectacular storms will no doubt abound later in the season and I hope to perform better in those. For now, here is the first one of this new season. I hope you enjoy.

The short drive home left little time to reflect on the experience and I went straight into the office to begin copying over the images from the camera. I surprised an adult possum who looked at me from the cats litter tray as if to say “do you mind? How about a little privacy, please.”

I left him a dish of food and then left him alone for about fifteen minutes and I headed upstairs to give him his space.

He was long gone when I came back down and I made a coffee and sat at my desk in the quiet and darkness. Such moments are very reflective. I don’t want to turn on the light with the door open as every bug in the neighborhood would think I was throwing an early morning party.

While I was sitting there sipping the black stuff, I was lost in thought on how this is yet another season. Each season is both different and the same. They are different from the season just gone and the same as they were a year ago.

It seems crazy to me how quickly time moves between seasons and how the years just seem to accelerate as we grow older.

I know it is merely an illusion. Time moves at the one pace. It is our perception of time that changes.

My theory on this is simple:

When we are younger, we are continually going through new experiences and creating new memories, so the time appears to hold more and therefore seems longer.

As we get older, we are often repeating experiences already gained and so we look back on time and it contains less memories and therefore seems to have passed faster.

We have clocks, timers, watches … instruments that measure time for us. But nothing marks the passage of time better than seasons. Each time a season repeats, a whole year has passed. And it can bring a sharp realization of how many seasons we’ve experiences.

While none of us know how many seasons we have left in our lives, we absolutely do know that it is a diminishing number.

But the moment we begin to think of seasons as merely a marker or consider them only as a number, then we have missed their point.

Seasons are a wonderful illustration of the full life cycle. There are few better opportunities in front of us to witness the planet go through birth, youth, adulthood, death, and yes .. rebirth.

You may have a favorite season but the truth is they are all a marvel in their own right and should be breathed in for what they bring with their winds of change.

I love the fresh newness that Spring ushers in, the warm smiles that Summer creates, the golden tones of Autumn relaxation, and the quiet reflection of Winter demise.

Each season plays its part and life plays out in harmony with each. Nature cycles in and out with each season. Life is born, it lives, it dies.

You can choose to fear transition from one to another, if you wish. But it happens just the same. We can’t stop a leaf turning from green to gold and brown and falling, just as we couldn’t stop a seed from growing into a bud or flower earlier in the year.

So when we look at our lives and realize how much they too are aligned with the seasons, we can fear transition all we want, but the changes are still going to happen. From the “I don’t want to grow up, I’m a Toys R Us kid” to the desperate search for Ponce De Leon’s Fountain of Youth … it all matters nothing.

Being preoccupied with life changes to where we have cosmetic surgery, hair implants, tummy tucks and boob jobs … it all screams a fear of growing old. But growing old will happen to us all. If we’re lucky.

I don’t want to look like Jackie Stallone when I die. I see no shame in growing old. Yes, the aches and pains can make for miserable days but then youth had some miserable days too.

Our experience in life shouldn’t be defined by which season we are in. Each one should be embraced and appreciated for what the winds bring with them.

I admit that I hang around with friends much my junior and seek fresh experiences that keep filling my memory banks along the way. But frankly, there is nothing in the winter rule book that says you have to just run out the clock sitting in an armchair in front of TV.

… just a thought!