The Right Place

Work has been at an all-time lull and it would have been easy mid-afternoon the day before yesterday to just slink back home and wait for darkness to fall so I could go to bed.

But it was a lovely day outside; blue skies with a smattering of cloud and plenty of time before the sun would go down. Admittedly it was a bit hot (somewhere around 90) but that only reinforced my thoughts for grabbing the camera and heading to Circle B.

You see, I imagined that with such heat in a mid-afternoon moment, there weren’t likely to be very many others on the trails there.

And I was right. There was only a smattering of cars in the parking lot and most of my walking on the trails was spent in the company of only my shadow.

In fact, I remembered musing to myself at one moment that if something large were to emerge from the waters and take me, no one would even know until the alarm went out about a car in the parking lot that hadn’t been moved in days.

I am almost never on these trails at this time of day, so I sensed that it would be a different experience as morning feeders had gone for a siesta and evening hunters hadn’t yet emerged from their own moments of rest. There were definitely some familiar creatures still there as herons and egrets hung around by the fish-laden waters ready for a mid-afternoon snack.

But as anticipated, the heat brought out more reptiles from the cooler waters as they looked to heat themselves up in the the bask of strong sunlight. Turtles and alligators appeared much more plentiful than at my normal timeslot and that only reinforced my mild-fears of becoming an afternoon snack; not so much the turtles, but the alligators seemed to be all smiling at me!

By the time I hit the end of Marsh Rabbit Run, a trail that cuts a straight swathe through marsh waters on both sides, I had already taken more than enough wonderful shots to make this trip worthwhile. I even got a shot of a one-eyed alligator who seemed to lie in wait for me to stumble just a little closer towards the waters.

But it was really on the way back that two of the most amazing things happened to me that will hold this particular journey in my mind until I die.

Firstly I spotted what looked like a small rabbit in the tall grasses near the edge of the trail. On first sight I would have bet money that he was in fact a rabbit. But it turned out to be a Florida Salt Marsh Vole and not only was he a little guy that I had never seen before, but it turns out he is an endangered species and not imagined to be in this area at all. So this was genuinely a rare sighting.

I watched as he ran out from the side, grabbed a little worm for a snack and then ran back to the protective cover of the grasses again.

After I passed him by, I admit that I was walking faster and with purpose to get back to my car and ultimately home so that I could sort through my images on something bigger that my camera viewfinder. I was in hope that my shots had come out in focus and that question drove each forward step.

The second thing took place only about ten yards further up the trail. To my left in the waters just off the trail, I spotted an alligator very close to the water’s edge but having shot a couple of alligators at almost that same spot on my way down the trail, I paid him no thought and just continued my speedy march.

Then, suddenly, he emerged up the embankment right in front of me and came to an abrupt stop. As did I … very abrupt.

As we stood there looking at each other we were only about six feet apart and he seemed as shocked to see me as I was to see him.

He was about nine or ten feet, I guess, and could have possibly had me for lunch if he wished, except for one big thing. There in his mouth was a rather large catfish. Perhaps two or two-and-a-half feet long. It was already dead and he had clearly decided that he wanted to eat him on dry land rather than in the water.

As I decided not to move and began snapping shots, he was so close that my lens was having difficulty focusing. So, I took a half-step backwards and knelt down so that I could shoot him at his level rather than mine. He still wouldn’t budge; just stood there smiling at me.

So, I figured I should give him a little more privacy and stood up again and took another step back. When he saw I was no threat he then stepped further onto the trail and ate his catch. The ferocity of what I was being treated to was humbling. His strong jaws were repeatedly crunching the poor fish until it was almost jelly in his mouth. Mud and blood just poured out from the side of his mouth until he finally swallowed his lunch and then looked back at me.

I had videoed the entire eating ordeal and lowering the camera by my side, I spoke to him, telling him what an amazing creature he was. I am not sure if he understood my words but I am confident he caught the intent in the tone of my voice. Then he slowly reversed down the embankment and back into the water.

I watched as he swam away, still in awe that I had witnessed something so powerful in such close proximity.

Then I walked faster back to the car so that I could get home quickly and see if I got what I hoped I had. The only stop of note on my way back was when I saw a baby alligator out in the sun and I took a couple of shots of this innocent little predator that hopefully one day will grow as large and powerful as his neighbor. The weight of the contrast wasn’t lost on me.

I have placed a bunch of images at the end of the blog so I hope you enjoy them. The video came out awesome and while not for the squeamish, I will happily send it by email to anyone wanting to see it. Just drop me an email and I will reply in return

When all the excitement settled down a little, it was really this morning that the idea for this blog came to me. We often go through life talking about the one that got away, or how something almost happened but didn’t. But It is important to recognize that sometimes we are in the right place at the right time.

It may not happen very often but when it does, we need to be ready for it. That is why some people have been in the right place at the right time, an opportunity arose, and they were able to take it. That is the recipe for success.

It isn’t simply a matter of hard work or pure luck. You not only have to be there when the opportunity comes knocking, you have to be ready for it and able to take advantage of it.

Seizing the moment is a wonderful idea but it is only useful if the moment arrives at a time when you are able to seize it!

For my little moment, it all boiled down to me having a camera that could capture both video and stills and for the moment to happen when the alligator and I hit the same place on the trail at the same time.

In our lives, we often bemoan our missed opportunities. “I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody.” Marlon Brando moaned in On The Waterfront.

Coulda means nothing. Taking life’s opportunity when it comes … that’s what stops us describing life in a one-that-got-away story trying to impress our audience.

One life. Live it. Seize it.

… just a thought!

Blood Moon

I climbed out of bed around 11:30 last night and for the next hour fought off mosquitos, listened as creatures of the night moved in the scrub near me, and basked in the increasingly red glow of the moon as it went through a total lunar eclipse.

Was it worth getting up in the middle of my night for? Absolutely!

There are many wonderful pieces of this universe that just scream out to be noticed and I am so glad I got to witness this little one.

When you feel highly flawed as a person or a photographer, like I do, you always wonder if your pics are going to do it justice. So I was pleasantly surprised that the shots showed what I wanted them to.

I have attached a few pics showing the transition to total eclipse at the end of the blog. Hope you enjoy!

As I went back home and climbed back into bed to resume where I had left off in my dreams, there was a lovely sense of accomplishment attached to what I had just done.

There was also a lovely feeling of insignificance as I lay my head on the pillow and realized that no matter how big any one of us thinks we are, in the grand scheme of things we are insignificant.

And in an instance like this, that is not a bad thing.

We all seek significance. We seek relevance. And when speaking in terms of how we affect those around us, those are good goals to have.

But it is also important to remind ourselves every now and then that the universe doesn’t even know we exist. And when we are gone, the universe will be the exact same without us.

Thus our perspective of what is important is skewed inasmuch as we worry about things and reach for things that are largely irrelevant.

Yes, indeed, there are things to worry about and we need to give them the weight that they deserve when we prioritize or extend ourselves. The people we love and care about, the little creatures that are affected by our actions, the environment of the planet that we live on.

These are all hugely important to us and to the world. And we owe it to ourselves to make sure we do our best in each of those things.

But as I looked at each star last night, I realized that the light that traveled from the most distant stars in the universe has taken over a thousand years to reach here.

And at this moment in time, we are often therefore looking at stars that don’t exist any more. They might have exploded 500 years ago!

So, now imagine you are on one of those distant stars looking at earth. The light from our planet will take the same thousand years to arrive there and so to someone standing there and looking at us, we may not even exist by the time they see the light that leaves here today.

As a distant planet, we might have died off many hundreds of years ago.

So, how significant does that make us!

And that is only considering the one universe we are in. How significant is our universe itself even when stacked up against the millions of universes out there?

I am not trying to blow your mind on a Monday morning, but just wanted to help you realize that whatever worries the week brings you, try to keep it in perspective.

Only worry about what you can actually accomplish and let the rest of it fade away. We have but one life; enjoy the ride!

… just a thought!

The one that got away

I had an awesome day at the beach with Vel yesterday. We just hung on and watched the birds, and listened to the waves as they gently beat onto the shore.

It was very therapeutic and we both commented how you could just close your eyes and listen and even that would have been enough.

There weren’t a lot of people on the beach but those that were there were having fun. They were swimming, snorkling, surf-boarding, para-sailing, and some were just sunbathing.

It was another clear-blue-sky-day on Florida’s gulf coast and a perfect reminder on why I chose this place as where I will live out my life.

At the outset, it was the birds that caught my attention and their camouflage against the sands and shells was amazing. Sandpipers, Sanderlings and a few others, were wandering along the shoreline, checking in the sand and under the shells for morsels to eat.

I have a number of pics of them at the end of the blog. Hope you get to check them out!

It was Vel that caught the initial splash of something large about 200 to 300 feet off shore and it turned out to be a large fish that had been hooked by one of those wonderful sports-fishing patrons.

We watched him for a half hour, reel-in and tire out his catch and it was a true david vs goliath experience as the team on board made sure that Mr Wonderful was going to be able to take home with him a wonderful catch story to impress his friends with.

His wife/partner/whatever eagerly captured the whole thing for him on her phone so that they had a fabulous record of their amazing fun time in Florida.

Thirty minutes it lasted. And apparently the only person not enjoying himself was the fish on the end of the line.

He fought like crazy against the line that had him hooked and I am sure that in their mental descriptions of the upcoming story to their friends, they were probably going to give him credit for making it such a tough catch.

Because it was incredibly tough for that poor Mr Wonderful, seated comfortably in the boat, drinking his Nat Light, and having to put up with all the support of his cheer squad. Must have been even more awful when they put a brace around his waist and secured him to the boat so that he wouldn’t be pulled overboard. The bastards were taking away his freedom.

His god-given right to fall off the boat if he should so choose to do so. Don’t they know this is Merica!

You could see the strain on the rod and poor Mr Wonderful’s arms as that radical socialist fish refused to come easy. OK, so there might have been a corresponding level of strain in the fish’s mouth caused by the hook, but everyone knows fish don’t feel pain. I mean poor Mr Wonderful’s arms must have been seriously aching.

I felt for him and all of us on the beach wished we were on that boat so that we could help our fellow-brother pull in that slimy commie.

But brave Mr Wonderful had to do it all on his own with his god-given boat, good-given rod and tackle, god-given support-crew, and of course his god-given Nat Lite.

Suffice to say that when at the very end, that slimy left-leaning rapscallion refused to give Mr Wonderful his winning photo moment and aided by some radical-left traitors hiding from sight, the line broke.

Well, at least they would like you to think the line broke. Those commie bastards. This is definitely a case of Fake News put out by the liberal media as they seek to undermine our god-given right to kill whatever we want. Except the babies of course. Those little fetuses need to be protected at all cost. Unless of course they were swimming in the sea, then it’s our god-given right to kill them.

Oh no wait, sorry. Can’t kill the fetuses, under any circumstance. Doesn’t matter if it was rape or incest, because it might be a god-given good rape. Ya know what I mean?

OK, if I haven’t made my point yet, then stop reading and don’t bother with this blog any more.

It is stunning to me how innocent little creatures can be killed for fun. It is the most immoral act I know.

So, when I saw the line break yesterday, my heart smiled and I was thrilled to catch the look of disappointment on the would-be killer’s face.

These murderers are nearly always men, have you noticed? And I strongly suspect white men at that.

Their right-to kill has been ingrained into them since they were children by their killer fathers. And they will in-turn raise their own little brood of killer sons.

These NRA card-carrying murderers see nothing wrong with taking an innocent life, as long as they can wash it down with a cool Nat Lite.

These are not people who hunt for food. They are not reliant on what they hunt in order to eat. They may eat what the kill (some of them) but that is entirely different from having to hunt in order to eat. But, they will never see that difference. Because they are ignorant of the world around them and only know what their killer-pappy told them.

Ingraining respect for natural life and for the environment, seems like a redundant concept. I have seen the most wonderful parents make this point to their children growing up. But why should they need to?

Why is is not a natural behavior, like breathing or sleeping? Why do we have to train kids not to kill creatures for fun?

It’s a simple answer really that comes in two parts; firstly humans are inherently a selfishly flawed creature and secondly others around them display reckless abandon in their murdering of the innocents and destruction of the planet.

Am I the only fool who thinks that is sad?

… just a thought.