Another Saturday, another walk at Huntley Meadows. This time, on the larger wetland area, the water reflected the yellow flowers on the opposite shore while barely perceptible breeze distorted the mirrored image almost imperceptibly. I waited for a duck, a goose, anything to swim in the middle of the scene while in the corner of my eye I was watching two shorebirds on the same opposite shore. After a while, I started thinking about impressionist paintings, namely the water lilies of Monet. Handel will have to wait.
Inspired by Van Gogh, not Handel. Fall colors reflected in the wavy wetlands of Huntley Meadows.
Life is a series of pictures. Not everything is clear. Even the things that seem to move too fast can be beautiful. A moment in time. A moment in one’s life. Savor it.
Twenty four hours later, I am back at Huntley Meadows. And the place looked different, not only because the algae moved but because of the fundamental truth that lies beneath our existence. Every moment is different, change is constant, so embrace the challenges that this brings.
I think I am going to have to take pictures of other birds, whether at Huntley or elsewhere. My heron and egret quota are full. Now, if only I was better at spotting birds.
(Here’s the thing. If you want to say that you’ve reached some sort of quota, then you are not living life to the fullest. Familiarity does not need to lead to contempt. It should lead to further exposition and deeper knowledge.)
Another Saturday, a very warm one, has come and gone. In the early morning hours, before the first sip of coffee was even in a cup, I took my RX10IV and headed for Dunkin Donuts. The one that’s two miles away from Huntley Meadows. The sun had just broken through the horizon, and I needed the sun to go up just a little higher to clear the tree line at Huntley. And I needed a little jolt to wake me up so to speak.
It was near 80F at six in the morning. The day had barely started and the humidity was already beginning to make things a little uncomfortable. Oh well, I was already at the parking lot, so I might as well take a walk through the woods and then into the wetlands. As I crossed into the boardwalk, the moon was still visible in the sky.
And the white flowers were there, just like they were the week before. The air was heavy with heat and humidity. As I walked further towards the wetlands, the flowers, with dew clinging to the leaves and petals, were backlit by the rising sun. It was quite a thing to behold. Hundreds, maybe even a thousand or so flowers, glistening in the early morning light.
Sometimes, you need to stop and admire the things around you. And enjoy the unexpected. It warm. It was humid. The sun was up. I was going to just quickly walk through and look for birds. And yet. In the heat of the rising sun, nature reminded me yet again to slow down and enjoy life. Take the whole thing in. The story is not just what we want it to be. It is an entirety waiting for us, to discover, to find new things, to explore. It is not always what we envision, but if we keep our eyes open, it can and is often better than what we imagine.
The red algae was blooming in the main wetland area. Water was evaporating, as it always does. The water level drops down as summer progresses. With little rain to naturally replenish the wetland, the water was shallower, murkier. I walked towards the observation tower, where I spied the egrets and herons wading in the shallow water.
I was amazed. Huntley was alive this particular Saturday morning. Two kingfishers were flying about. Just a little bit to far to take pictures of, but you knew they were there. A deer was foraging by some bushes. The herons were in the water. They were in the air.
The herons were fishing. And I thought that maybe, just maybe, this heron’s appetite was a little bit too much.
And then an osprey flew by. And caught a fish. Not quite the magnificent catch I saw earlier.
There were herons aplenty. Herons grooming themselves in the “mirror.”
Herons with unexpected visitors, like this juvenile white ibis.
And suddenly, a flock of egrets flew by. Land, I said to myself. And land they did. By the red algae bloom of the Huntley wetlands.
It was hot. It was humid. That was to be expected. The egrets in the wetland. One or two, maybe. A flock stopping by to rest, perhaps to cool down just a bit. That was most unusual. And on this summer day in July, it was most welcome.
Last Saturday morning, I woke up shortly after the sun had awakened and Huntley Meadows, one of the local wildlife refuges, beckoned. There was only one thing that made me think that maybe, just maybe, I should stay in bed. The sky was overcast and the weather casters predicted about two inches of rain for the weekend. I was pretty sure I wanted to just go out, go for a short hike, and take some pictures. There was, however, something weighing on my mind. It was grey. It was dull. What pictures were there to take in such a day as this? In short, while I knew what I wanted to do, how will the reality of the on and off drizzle mesh with my idea of taking pictures of birds in spring? My heart said go ahead. My head asked why? How so?
Sometimes the head wins out. Sometimes the heart flutters too much and like the sweet smell of sampaguitas, the feeling envelops you, and the world feels new. Is new. The dawn of a new day. A little muted, perhaps, but alive with possibilities.
And so it was that three hours was spent walking around in the on and off sprinkles from the sky. And sometimes, the sun decided to tease a little warmth into the cool May morning. The heart may be a lonely hunter at times, but then again, it can only be so. For in the ups and downs and ups in life, we find our way to life lived, a life lived well.
How so? The answer is simple. Make it so. And here are the pictures to prove it.
Autumn in Northern Virginia. Huntley Meadows in Alexandria, Virginia. In the middle of suburbia, the woods and wetlands remind you of the true beauty that nature brings.
Fall is definitely here in Northern Virginia. The trees are finally resplendent in coloration. The lack of rain may have dampened the deep red, orange and yellow hues so prevalent in autumns past, but the warm weather affords many opportunities for walks in the parks and nature reserves that dot the Washington area. Huntley Meadows, with its wetlands replenished by recent rains, is particularly beautiful in the fall. Reflections are a mirror image of reality and with a little bit of help from a slight breeze, the reality becomes a beautiful dream. A reflection seen in a calm body of water can be beautiful. With longer exposure taken with a tripod mounted camera, the slight undulations in the surface, made possible by a gentle wind, transform the beauty of a tranquil day into a treasure of moving colors, a feast for the eyes.