I rarely hit the trails in the middle of the day. I am generally a creature of habit … and habitually first thing in the morning is my trail time apparently.
But my trail buddy worked her wily charms and got me out to Circle B around lunch time on Sunday. The parking lot was full and the sun was high in the sky, which is notoriously a bad time for taking pictures (or so the experts say). But I went anyway, because I am afraid of her and I need to occasionally be able to sit with my back to a door.
We found an unconventional parking spot and set off on foot surrounded by throngs of Sunday-Snow-Birds, but by the time we had walked a half hour, the herd had thinned out and we found ourselves alone on a trail.
By this time, we had photographed several lovely creatures along the way, who apparently didn’t object to the stark shadows caused by the high midday sun. Apparently wild creatures don’t read professional photography books, generally speaking.
But as we slowly wandered along a quiet section, just ahead of us, a head poked out from the side-grass, stopped, and just watched us. We dropped to our knees and displayed no threat to him.
Out he came … a three-legged alligator that must have been 10 or 12 feet long. He limped quietly across the path and then head-first through the grasses, until he softly slid into the waiting waters and swam away.
I wasn’t really ready when he walked across but had enough presence of mind to hit the video button on my camera and managed to get a few seconds of him before he disappeared. Check this out … https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M2BSre5_qNI
If we had been just a minute earlier at that spot, we would have likely missed him, so we both felt very lucky to have shared a moment with him.
At Blog’s end are a number of shots from our trail. Hope you like them.
As it turned out, there was a good mix of creatures around and several large gators waiting to be petted. And having the sun hitting the feathers of the Glossy Ibis and showing off his range of colors, was a very special find that totally satisfied my photo-appetite.
By the time we left, the whole thought of habitual behavior was playing out in my head. I must have been to Circle B almost a hundred times in recent years and yet this was my first mid-day experience.
So, why have I conditioned myself into a pattern that limited me to early-morning shoots there?
It is obviously a self-imposed limitation and while there are many aspects of early-morning trails that are uniquely appealing, someone with a more balanced life-view would realize that different moments in the day offer different experiences.
Recently with the arrival of a new shoot-buddy, I have found myself expanding myself in several directions and therefore experiencing more sunset shoots and life shoots than I have in several years.
Us old fogies develop habits over our lifetime. We find things we like to do, restaurants we like to eat at, things we like to eat, and even people we like to see. Then we keep meeting the same people, at the same place, eat the same food, and do the same things with them.
There is a psychology behind this “old folk habit” and it goes like this: people who have been around a long time have generally found things that they like so they have no further need to experiment. Whereas younger people need to experiment in order to find out their likes.
But the problem is that these likes become habit-forming and we tend to live smaller lives, the older we get.
Experimentation is a real source of vitality and while it brings both a possibility of success AND failure, it tends to open our minds to new thoughts and new events.
I am very lucky inasmuch as half my friends are half my age. While my body becomes old and decrepit, they keep my soul as young as a baby’s.
I constantly am exposed to new things and new scenarios. Sometimes they challenge me to the point of exhaustion. They force me to learn new things and to adapt to challenges that others my age have long since retired from.
But without a doubt, they feed me. They nourish the youth within me and give my life a real purpose.
So, when I spot an old fogey habit like I did on Sunday, I quickly resolve to throw that one out. It brings a resolve to me that I need to be better at mixing things up.
Each one of us fall into the habitual-living pattern over time. Today’s youth will become the old fogeys a generation from now, much as we did when we overtook our parents’ generation.
But succumbing to old age is something we should only allow our bodies to do, never our mind. Inside mine, I think I am somewhere in my twenties … now, if I could just live in a mirror-less world, life would be perfect!
Have a wonderful week!