Great Blue Heron

I have a hard drive full of Great Blue Heron shots, but I still find it hard to pass by one without at least getting one shot, believing that this one will be the ultimate shot, better than all the others I already have.

More often than not, I just erase the shot when I get home. So I was a little surprised when I decided that I really like this shot, even though the heron was rather far away, and standing in a shady spot.

Great Blue Heron

I like the original even better than this cropped shot, but, as I often find out, when a picture is only 620 pixels wide it looks better when it’s cropped tighter than when it’s on a 24” wide screen.

More of Selected Poems of Su Tung-p’o

I was hard pressed to choose a representative poem from the many I liked in the last third of Selected Poems of Su Tung-p’o translated by Burton Watson. I probably chose this one because it comes closest to expressing my own feelings at being retired:

Three Delights in My Place of Exile (1097)

GETTING UP IN THE MORNING AND COMBING MY HAIR

Sound sleep, sea of inner breath stirring;
boundless, it ascends to the cerebral palace.
The sun comes up, dew not yet dried,
dense mist shrouding the frosty pines.
This old comb’s been with me so long –
teeth missing, still it makes fresh breezes.
With a single washing, ears and eyes brighten;
popping open, ten thousand pores come alive.
Young days, how I loved my sleep, loathed getting up –
dawn audiences at court were always a scramble,
no time even to give my head a good scratching,
and then the bother of putting on a hat! –
no different from a draft horse in the shafts,
wind-tousled mane full of dirt and sand.
Mounting my fancy saddle, jeweled bit jangling,
in truth it was like donning chains and shackles,
no telling when I’d be free again, unchained,
not even an old willow to rub my itches on! –
But who can describe the delight I know now?
I’ll send copies to the gentlemen with gold seals at their waist.

THE FIRST of three poems. The other two are entitled “By the Afternoon Window, Sitting and Dozing,” and “Before Going to Bed, Soaking My Feet.” The poet was suffering from swollen feet, probably due to beriberi, and soaked his feet to relieve the swelling.

Lines 1-2. The poet employs Taoist terminology to describe the physical sensation of a good night’s rest.

Line 20. “Gentlemen with gold seals at their waist” are the high government officials who sent the poet into exile. It is said that one of them ordered Su to move from Hui- Chou to Tan-chou because rumor reached him that Su was actually enjoying himself in Hui-chou. As these poems illustrate, Su remained defiantly determined to continue enjoying his life in exile.

My Army memories of having to get up and lead PT in the dark rival any of my Vietnam memories. Still, my worst memories were of donning Dress Blues to attend a formal reception and standing in long reception lines to be introduced to dignitaries who wouldn’t remember me ten minutes after I’d been introduced, not that they had any reason to.

Of course, as mentioned before, any kind of “work” seems like being “draft horse in the shafts, /wind-tousled mane full of dirt and sand.” What a joy to get up in the morning with nothing to do but enjoy the day in all its fullness.

Trumpeter Swans

Monday turned out to be one of the sunniest days of the year so far, and, luckily, I had scheduled a trip to Elma and thereabouts. It’s some of the closest farmland around and generally attracts a wide range of birds, but I was most attracted by the prospect of getting some photographs of Trumpeter Swans.

I certainly wasn’t disappointed as the fields were full of swans and more,

Trumpeter Swans And Snow Geese

in this case Snow Geese mixed in with the flock, apparently devoted to grazing and allowing the swans to provide any needed security. I’ll have to admit I was a little awed by the size of these birds, especially considering that Snow Geese aren’t little birds.

Unfortunately, they were far too shy to get very close to them, probably wise considering that hunting season just ended Sunday. I really wanted to get some shots of a swan floating placidly on a pong, but considering that most of the ponds were iced over I considered myself lucky to get this shot of them on the far side of a large pond:

Swans On Pond

The biggest thrill of the day might have been when a small flock of Trumpeters flew directly overhead:

Swan Flying Over

I’m planing to return in a few weeks with hopes of getting a little closer to them once the gunfire fades into a distant memory.

There were very few ducks to be seen, and none to be seen in the pond where the hunting blind is located. In fact there weren’t even songbirds. The place was eerily quiet.