Little Things

It was a last-minute decision yesterday that took me to Marsh Rabbit Trail at Circle B.

I had originally planned a restful day with nothing on my agenda but once I saw the way the day was shaping up with a gorgeous blue-sky day unfolding, I felt guilty at letting it just pass me by. I needed to do something constructive and a few hours in one of my favorite places in the world would help me build towards the week ahead.

There is a lot of shit happening (good and bad) and I wanted to equip my soul with the weapons to tackle whatever the week throws at me.

The images I took along the trail became a real challenge as I focused more on the small birds this time, rather than their bigger cousins. And shooting little guys that move at the speed of sound through bushes and trees, will quickly dismantle any notions of being a good photographer that you might have.

Their movement is so fast and so hap-hazard that trying to focus and catch what is going on is a huge hit and miss effort.

It is much easier to get a clear shot of a larger bird, perched model-like on a branch. But this was a very real challenge as their position on the food chain makes them susceptible to attack at any moment and so they move accordingly.

Plus they just love to mess around and have fun. They seem to enjoy themselves much more than the bigger birds, whose vocabulary probably does not include the word “fun” at all.

I did end up with some neat shots of gnatcatchers, warblers, and others and have added them at the bottom of this blog. They include a really good capture of a moment where a spider bade farewell to life and became part of the greater circle. I hope you enjoy!

It was in the car driving home (as if often the case) that I began to muse over the thought for this blog. You see, I like to revisit what I have just shot or what my encounters entailed, in a bid to justify having gone somewhere.

Often times it is a major sunrise moment, or a near-miss with an alligator, or some particularly good shots of an Ospry with his catch.

This time though it was many encounters with these little guys that left the impression on me of having had a great time. There was no single big event and even with the many encounters, I didn’t know if my shots had captured anything worth sharing. You push the shutter-release and maybe see a quick snapshot of what you got in the viewfinder. But truth is until you pull it up onto the big screen at home, you really don’t know if you got anything worth capturing or even if it is in focus.

So my feel-good feeling was coming from something else. It was coming from the joy of watching these little guys flit in and around the bushes and trees. It came from fighting against my own inadequacies in trying to shoot them. And not least of all, it came from breathing in beautiful air under a blue-sky canopy that reminds me of how precious a place, Florida is.

Much of our life is marked by major happenings. These can be good or bad and they create an assortment of memories that we weave into the tapestry of our life story.

If we are fortunate, these happenings are noteworthy to where we can share the joy or seek comfort with those around us.

But the vast majority of our life is spent in small moments. Moments that we barely share with anyone and that from day to day might not even form a memory.

These are the little things that provide the parchment upon which the bigger moments are written.

These are the things that create the general feeling of contentment or dissatisfaction that underpins our mental state from the moment we wake until we close our eyes to sleep.

It might be a sore back or stiff joints on a negative side, to a good energy or feeling of well-being on the positive.

While we don’t talk about or share these with most people in our circle, they provide the general mood that we are in at any given moment in time and as such, we should seek to acknowledge them to ourselves.

For example, if you have been dealing with some lower back pain all day and lie down in bed at night to go to sleep, console yourself that there has been a root cause behind your general low feeling of the day.

Conversely (and this is the more important point) if you are feeling content of peaceful as you close your eyes, remind yourself that this was a day without pain, where things generally went well, or where you were quite productive.

It is really important to acknowledge the good days in our lives. And that acknowledgement is more important when the good days were built by many little things rather than a big win.

“Why?” I hear you ask.

Well, it is simple really. The bigger moments will have caused a memory to be built and on reflection you will likely be able to find it again at year’s end. But little things that occupied smaller moments won’t have generated a memory and therefore could be lost in time, without acknowledgement.

Looking back on a particular period of time, they could therefore be lost in time and allow the perception that last year was a bad one, even when most days were actually quite good.

… just a thought!


I’ve become somewhat of a crazy cat person and instead of fashioning them into my schedule, I have fully morphed into theirs.

No surprise then, that yesterday morning, I fall out of bed again at four in order to get the upstairs ones their breakfast, Tetsuo who is the outside night-watchman, his, and then feed and release all the overnighters in the office below.

It is a routine that I have established that takes the first 45 minutes of my day … every day. And though it may sound like I begrudge it, I genuinely don’t.

In many ways I have found purpose in helping these little guys and giving them a safe harbor from an otherwise unknown world.

Once done, I have my own breakfast and then look at myself to see what I want to do before I start the rest of my day. Yesterday (as often before), the decision was to grab a coffee and the camera and head for Lake Parker to enjoy the twilight and herald the day in that way.

It was a gorgeous clear-sky twilight where the horizon gets infused with the most beautiful warm orange and peach colors and I found such peace in the quiet and natural heaven that I found myself standing in.

It isn’t possible to have a more peaceful entrance into a day and I breathed in the moment that mother nature was kind enough to share with me.

I only had the 11 mm lens with me, so I hope you like the collection of images it took, which are at the end of the blog.

I’ve made that same decision in favor of a morning start at Lake Parker, many times before and I asked myself if it was the right decision to make once again.

But they say you can never have enough of a good thing and in this instance, I think that saying is correct. Though the venue has been the same for many of my shoots, there always seems to be at least a very slight difference from one twilight to another.

It might be the condition of the sky, the morning temperature, or even just the state of mind that I am in. But there always seems to be enough difference that stops me from feeling a deja vu moment.

After I paused and said hi to my mom and dad ( a tiny piece of them was poured into the lake after their deaths), I said hi to a couple of fishermen that were heading out in their boat, climbed into the car, and drove home.

As is often the case, I mused over what the morning had brought and my role in making it happen. There was no longer a question in my mind of whether I should or shouldn’t have gone there. But that’s when the thought for today’s blog began to run around inside my head.

You see, we make many decisions for ourselves each day and each one takes us on a different journey than if we had decided differently. In the “many world’s theory” there is an infinite number of versions of us that follow each decision path simultaneously and while I think that is an interesting thought, I balk at the reality of such a theory.

Rather, I choose to believe that there is only one version of us traveling on a single journey through life and in many ways this one journey is shaped by the decisions we make along the way.

In the many world’s theory, our decisions wouldn’t matter and it would absolve us of consequence of good or bad decisions. But in my reality our decisions do matter and as such, we are bound to make as many good decisions as we can.

It is difficult to confidently make a good decision. We can give it our best shot based on our knowledge, past experience, and whatever factors might affect its outcome. But there is no guarantee that any decision we make is a good one.

Life brings very few guarantees along the way and other than eventual death, I can’t think of a single one. Can you?

So what that means is that with no guarantees of success, it is important to understand our decision making process and try to reduce the risk that whatever decision we make might result in a fail.

Most people make decisions glibly without aforethought. They reserve aforethought for what they consider to be serious decisions (financial, career, future plans, etc.)

We can’t grind ourselves to a stop at each decision point in our lives, taking time to overthink what we should do. We would end up never taking a step forward and life would be arduous and slow.

But, like most things in life, there is a balance that we should seek between both extremes and make sure that each decision along our journey is given a reasonable amount of thought consistent with its importance.

“What shirt will I wear today?” is less life-affecting than “do I take up smoking?” which is less life affecting that “let’s play Russian roulette. I am bored.”

And even if analyzing our decisions before they are made isn’t possible due to the circumstances we make them in, then we should at least ask ourselves how we made that decision later when we have a quieter moment.

The value in doing that is that the importance of each decision is not always obvious and sometimes we make what we consider to be a small decision that turns out to be life affecting. “How about one more drink for the road?”

I am not going to labor the point but I have often found myself at night in bed reviewing decisions made during the day. It has turned out to be a very effective way to understand how it is that I make decisions and whether I have missed something or not that would improve the likelihood of a better decision.

Knowing ourselves and understanding what makes us tick is a very important part of our life experience. Analyzing how and why we make decisions is one part of that and well worth the few minutes that it takes.

… just a thought.

Fear of the Dark

The other day saw me grabbing the camera and heading to Lack Hancock at Circle B around five o’clock in the morning.

I think I arrived between 5:30 and 5:45 so sunrise was still quite a distance away from happening. The plan was to make it down to the pier that extends into Lake Hancock before twilight and hang out there until Mother Nature began to do her thing with the horizon.

It involved a long walk from the car to the lake in darkness and while the almost-full moon was bright in the sky and lit up much of my path, whenever I went under the trees, I was very much reliant on the small flashlight I had brought with me.

Interestingly the strength of the moonlight was to cast long shadows beneath the live oak trees that are very thick along the path and these shadows appeared to move with each step I took.

This particular trail lived up to its name (Shady Oak Trail) and just for the experience, there were several times I turned off the flashlight altogether and experienced the feeling of stepping forward in total darkness.

If you haven’t done that, give it a try. It really challenges your belief in yourself and your surroundings.

I remember a million years ago just inside the door to his office, my boss had one of those motivational posters that read “When you take a step into a room that is totally dark, you believe one of two things. Either the floor will be there to greet your step or you will learn to fly.” Forty years later I still remember that sentiment and it has been a guiding thought for me in many an instance of stepping into the unknown.

In this case, the steps I took were along a trail I had taken many times in the daylight so it hardly qualified as being “unknown” but the tall grasses, bushes, and trees either side of the trail provided a haven for many a wild creature and in this darkness certainly did qualify as being unknown.

In all honesty, I had no fear of this unknown, though, and was more into the freedom of taking unknown steps in the darkness. It was a really invigorating feeling and heightened my senses with each step.

There was only one brief moment where I questioned the sanity of what I was doing, when I took a step that was greeted by a growl and for a split second, I was startled. Until I realized that it was my stomach that growled.

I had to laugh at myself and my instant reaction to something so silly.

By the time I reached the lake, the vaguest hint of colors began to light the horizon and a single flat cloud seemed to hang there in order to prevent a clear-sky dawn.

I took a number of pics and they are at the end of the blog, including one where a broken log took on the silhouette of an arm pointing out the cloud in case I missed it.

It was a lovely morning and I hope you enjoy the pics.

It was driving home that I began to think about the aspect of darkness that brings fear with it.

There is nothing sinister in darkness per se yet most horror stories take place in it.

So, whey do we allow the darkness to be maligned so, when we know the same world exists in both light and darkness.

Some will argue that nocturnal creatures are more scary but I dismiss that as there are more predators that hunt in daylight than in darkness.

This means that the only real reason is that we can’t see anything and that our fear of the unknown is greater than our knowledge of what is and what isn’t.

Things that are known work in harmony with our brain to create a “safe” and comforting description of our world. We are very much creatures of habit and look to repeat things that we know to be be “good” and avoid things we deem to be “bad”.

But something that is unknown cannot be defined as good or bad because we simply don’t know it (yet).

So it isn’t our belief that the unknown is bad. It is simply that it is unknown.

And yet, tackling the unknown and unlocking its secrets is the single-most key ingredient to growing ourselves on life’s journey. It is through this experience and the wisdom that comes with each piece of new knowledge that we acquire that makes us a better and wiser human being.

But some people would choose to stay living in their mother’s womb, if they could. Gestation is not a life. It is simply an existence. Life doesn’t begin at conception and avoiding the unknown from your first breath to your last isn’t life either.

When we choose to live, we choose not to exist. People who live, create memories within themselves and others that justifies their having been born in the first place.

People who exist, miss out on all the wonder that life’s journey has to offer.

Yes; some of this journey will bring bad things our way but hopefully we will be rewarded with good things that outweigh the bad.

Therein lies the reason for taking each step forward in life.

We believe that each step will bring a reward and even when it doesn’t, the next one might.

Give it a try!

… just a thought.

Single Minded

It was likely the first time I ever went to shoot something with just a single image in my mind.

Yes, it was the chance to enjoy another gorgeous twilight at Lake Parker, but in my mind, I was more interested in getting one shot that involved the “mirror window” that I found locked away in one of my storage spots that other day.

It is a cool mirror that is framed and cross-pieced to look like a window and I wondered if I could get it to give me a reflection of the horizon while mother nature infused her unique blend of colors into the day.

I got there in plenty of time and was happily experimenting for about twenty minutes before anyone else arrived. In fact, when I was in the middle of moving my setup, I was so engrossed that I didn’t noticed a man appear from the trees and walk onto the pier where I was standing.

When he said “good morning” from a distance of about six feet away, I nearly shit myself and screamed “jeezez christ” like a young schoolgirl. He was even wearing a flashlight on his head. You would have thought I would have noticed him from a distance quite easily.

He was a nice man and we had a good chat and I apologized for my over-the-top scream on his appearance.

I stopped experimenting with the mirror after that. He was getting busy on the pier and others were beginning to arrive with their boats for a day’s fishing.

So, I took some other normal shots and the twilight was in fact quite gorgeous and very obliging.

I added a few of the shots along with one mirror shot at the end of the blog. I hope you enjoy!

I was still smarting from my girlish scream as I got into the car and headed home and the thought for today’s blog began to form then in my head, It was about how engrossed I had become in something to the extent that I had shut out my surroundings.

While there is nothing sinister about what happened in this instance, keeping track of what is going on around you can be the difference between life and death in some of the trails I go on. And that is true for many natural trail-shooting experiences.

I shocked myself at being so involved in what I was doing to the detriment of all else and arrived at the conclusion that it was the fact that I was being single-mindedly focused on what I was doing with the mirror.

It brings to mind the thought how sometimes we become so narrowly focus on a single involvement, that we become oblivious to things around us at the same time.

Oftentimes, we prioritize that single focus highly and the things that are happening around us less so. And there are many moments when this is the correct thing to do. When something is of tantamount importance to us, we are right to exclude other things that might distract us from the purpose at hand.

But most of our lives should be lived without a singular driving purpose and we need to become aware of things that are taking place around us that are suffering because of a single minded purpose.

Going through large portions of our life in a single minded way can cause us to lose many important portions of life that we don’t willingly lose. The obvious example is the person who devotes their attention exclusively to work issues to the detriment of family.

But there are also many prices exacted on a more moment-to-moment basis when we travel through even just a single day with only one thing on our mind. For example, the arrival of an opportunity in our lives is rarely heralded and given advance notice. We don’t get an alarm going off to let us know that an opportunity is about to happen.

Yet, if we are focused on a single purpose to the exclusion of all others, we don’t even get the chance to prioritize what we are doing against such an opportunity because we don’t even know the opportunity exists.

A good rule of thumb is to travel through life with as much of a multi-tasking, multi-purpose view as you possibly can. And even in near-extreme situations, only assign 80% to 90% of ourselves to a sudden emergency that requires a single purpose approach.

In so doing, we allow ourselves to entertain something important that crosses our horizon at the same time.

What I am saying is never hang a “do not disturb” sign on your door. Only one that reads “go ahead and disturb but do understand that I may ignore you”.

… just a thought!


Since my car died on Christmas Eve, I have found myself very hampered by not being able to get around much.

The only sunrise I could go to was the one within walking distance on Walker Road, and the only trail I could wander was my own yard.

I found it quite miserable to have my freedom of movement curtailed in such a manner and it robbed me of photo shoots at a time when I had time to do so.

The Walker Road shoot was mediocre at best and the cloudy or foggy days in my yard produced little by way of interest other than a poor fern that was restrained from its normal growth by a complex web above it.

And then this morning, I came across a lovely pleated mushroom in the dark while removing some of the overnight dishes from the possums.

I looked at it and thought it would be nice to shoot using a couple of my portable lights while it was still dark. I put on a blue and a red gel and was pleased with what I was able to take.

It was then I noticed that (like the fern) the mushroom was also restrained in its normal growth by a single blade of grass. I took some with it in place and others after I moved it.

I have added a small few images at the end of the blog.

It was really while looking at the images with the fern and the mushroom, that the thought formed in my head around the effect that a simple web and a blade of grass had on both.

And it made me think how the environment we are in shapes our growth in a similar manner, often restraining us or hindering our progress as we go through life.

Like the fern, sometimes the environment issue is significant, but other times a single blade of grass can stop us reaching our full potential.

Where I have seen the former in real life is how people who have emerged from environments where their childhood involved abusive parents or significant poverty become muted versions of who they could otherwise have been. Conversely, others are born into significant family wealth and doors open easily for them as they seek to grow their lives.

There is little that can be done about significant environmental constraints like that and much like the fern, our lives are very often restrained from achieving our full potential.

But other times, we allow a simple blade of grass to affect our growth and rather than conquering it or moving it aside, we allow it to dictate how much of our potential we achieve.

Recognizing that what we are looking at is simply a blade of grass, is an important first step in addressing how to overcome it. It might be a temporary cash flow issue, an unexpected pregnancy, a sudden illness, or whatever and recognizing its temporary nature, we should not allow it to place a permanent constraint on what we look to achieve in life.

Significantly, temporary issues may loom very large in our lives at any given moment and they can appear to consume our thoughts when they happen. But life decisions should never be made in consideration of them. They will either fade or we will deal with them and the ramifications of life decisions will long outlive them.

We can become intimidated or overwhelmed by their size and that is totally understandable. Perhaps we may even need help in dealing with them. But, either way, deal with them we must.

This morning when I moved the blade of grass, I felt sad for the little mushroom. He had no ability to move it himself and no voice to ask for help in moving it.

But we are not mushrooms. Although I know several people who behave as though they are. We play a much more active role in dealing with our environment.

Or at least, we should.

… just a thought.