We all know that old adage about a picture being worth a thousand words. And it's true, as is always carry your camera because you never know when you might need it. After all, it's a bit hard to take that perfect photo without it.
I have been caught so many times without my camera that I've sort of trained my brain to take the picture, and amazingly, I can dip into my mental photo album and pluck out a crystal clear vision of what I was not able to capture on my camera.
If I let my mind flip through that album, here's what randomly pops out:
** Driving east across the Great Plains in Montana, during a monumental early spring storm of wind, rain, hail, and snow, when suddenly a break in the sky, the sun pierces, and a brilliant triple rainbow glows to life arching over the highway directly in front of me. It was like the entrance to Nirvana. The colors were gem-like and beautiful, shimmering and mind-boggling. My camera was somewhere in the jumble of stuff in the back seat, stashed after the Rockies, because, really, what would I see that could possibly warrant a picture as I sped over the bleak and barren Plains?
** Kitchen door is open and I hear a loud shout, people talking excitedly outside. It's a clear, warm afternoon in Edinburgh. I dash out, thinking someone has fallen, needs help, whatever. I see several of my neighbors standing in the middle of the street, looking up in the sky. What in the world?? Alien invasion?? UFO?? I run to the gate, and ask what's going on. They are speechless and a few just point. I turn and look up. The last flight of the Concorde flies right over our heads, close enough to see every mark on the underbelly of that majestically doomed flying machine. The noise is incredible, the style and grace beyond description. This was the last voyage, the close of an era. The Concorde was making its final stops before landing in France, forever earthbound. NY, London, Edinburgh, then across the Channel to its place in history. It was amazingly beautiful. And I had no time to grab the camera.
** One of 12 crew on a 56-ft double-masted schooner. Night watch, I'm alone on deck, 3:00am. The night is pitch black, the sound of the water quiet and soothing as we slip through the gentle swells of the South Pacific. I feel--for the first time in my life--the utter insignificance of our tiny little lives when measured against the sea and the heavens and the earth itself. Phosphorescence gleams in streaks around the bow as we make our way through the water. I look up, stunned at the stars, the beauty. The Southern Cross is low in the sky, the star formation perfectly bright and clear. I marvel at the myriad of sailors and seafarers who have navigated by that celestial map point. I can't leave my post to snag my camera below decks; don't even know if I could take a photo that would be distinct enough. This is the very first photo to go into my mental album.
** I had a friend who never learned to drive. She asked me if I would teach her. Reluctantly, I agreed, though wasn't too hopeful; she was terrified of the whole experience, hence why she'd never learned. She was in her 30s, so if she wanted to learn, okay, I would try to teach her. We drove way out of Seattle, onto the Tulalip Indian Reservation, where it was quiet, far from traffic, and over the course of several weeks, I taught, she learned. On our last day of lessons, she was driving, and a reservation police car pulled in behind us and followed for ages. She was getting more nervous by the minute, I was being calm--though frankly, I wasn't sure how much trouble we'd be in as she didn't have a licence and we were on reservation land. Still. I kept her from freaking out, and at a quiet, isolated 4-way stop, we carried on, and he turned off. Anxiety for nothing, though my friend was totally wigged out. I told her to pull over when we got to the bend in the road so she could calm down. She did. We got out, walked a short ways to look out at the view of Puget Sound, and just as we reached the edge, far, far below us, surging along the coastline, two whales breach, the noise of their splash and spouting reaching clear up the cliff face to where we stood, in total awe and amazement. Seriously, people wait their whole lives for such a sight, and here we are, accidentally in the right place at the right time. My camera was at home.
** I was on a month long road trip through the Southwest; Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico under my belt. Stopped in Winslow, AZ and stood on that corner, the song whispering in my head. That night I camped in a place where they were excavating 11,000 year old artifacts from the original natives who had lived in that very spot. The guy camped next to me was from San Francisco and on his way to New Orleans to play a gig. He was a saxophone player. The next morning, I rolled out of bed, made some coffee, and in the quiet and peaceful beauty of an Arizona morning, the low, sweet notes of a tenor sax drifted over the campground. I went outside and there, on a slight rise in the desert, the sax man stood, facing the rising sun, the shape of his body and the sax a glowing silhouette against the yellow glare, his music nearly visible in the air. I was too mesmerized to move at first, then just as I turned to get my camera, he finished his song, bowed deeply to the rising sun, and walked away.
** On a flight from Miami to Chicago, flying between massive thunderheads, swelling and rising hundreds of feet above our altitude of 35,000 feet. It was like being on an alien planet, the seething columns alive, menacing, and eager to snare our fragile little machine as we dodged and darted, desperate to avoid flying into one of these monsters. My camera was in my pack, stowed in the overhead, the seat belt sign and the turbulence anchoring me in my seat.
I could go on...and on. My mental photo album is full of these vignettes, and all because I haven't had my camera handy.
So. What set off this post today??
I was walking the dogs through the VA complex this morning, as I love to do on the weekends. It's quiet, usually nary a soul, and I can ruminate, plan my day, drift in my head. As we're coming around this one long bend on the path, suddenly there is this raucous noise of blue jays. Not just one, but many. I pinpoint the tree and as we approach, more blue jays are arriving from all around the area. Frankly, I didn't know there were that many of them in all of Roseburg, let alone in one tree. The volume of noise is tremendous the closer we get. Even the dogs pause and look up. I'm not sure what kind of tree they're in, but it's still got all it's leaves and though I can hear dozens of birds, I can't see them in the foliage. I walk under the tree and look up. The center isn't as dense at it looks from outside, more like an umbrella effect, with clear views up the center of the tree to the top. And on every branch, twig and limb, are literally dozens of blue jays yelling at the top of their little lungs. They looked like vibrant, bright blue Christmas baubles in the lush green of the leaves. I couldn't believe how unexpectedly beautiful it was. Of course, my camera is at home.
Sigh. Ah well, I've still got plenty of room in my head to add another picture to the album.