It seems like I have turned my back on writing, although that isn't really the case. True, I haven't done any real work on a new novel for months, but the journal keeps getting its regular entries and whenever I have an idea it gets jotted down and filed away. I'm just under 20,000 words into a follow-up to "Boomerang" and I've got a pretty good idea where I want it to go, but for some reason there is no sense of urgency, nothing about that project that is overmastering me.
"We can only know what things are of overmastering importance when they have overmastered us."... from " Gaudy Night" by Dorothy L. Sayers
What has overmastered me of late is bird photography. Go figure.
And this is how it happened. My wife and I, back before the joyful, if time and energy consuming, job of raising children took over most of our non-working lives, used to love to go take pictures. Day trips around the beautiful state of Arizona where we live, art festivals, just knocking around with our 35mm cameras finding subjects worthy, or quirky or quirkily worthy and just taking photographs. A couple-plus decades later and we got the bug again. Me first, a few years ago, and her more recently. So first I got a Nikon digital SLR and then, this past Christmas, she got one too, and we needed places to go to exercise our cameras together.
We had seen mention in the local newspaper of record of a place not far from our house called the Gilbert Riparian Preserve. We had probably driven past it dozens of times without realizing just what it was, but now we decided that it might be a good place for us to renew our "couples photography" habit. There was mention of birds in the newspaper articles, but we've always like pretty flowers and other pastoral scenes, so we figured that would be the main attraction for us.
Not so much.
From our first visit I was hooked. I mean there were pelicans there! American white pelicans in the middle of Gilbert, Arizona! And Canadian geese! And all sort of other birds we had no idea what they were called. But they were cool looking and there were lots of them and it was a blast knowing that you never really could know what you would find when you went there but if you were patient and let it come, well, who knew what you might see?
So we've been back a bunch of times together and I've been back a few times by myself (weird work schedule helps with that) and so far I've captured pictures of about fifty different kinds of birds just in that one urban birding environment. According to what I've heard and read, that means I've got at least 150 to go.
So, for the next however long I'm going to be posting bird pics and talking about what I see and how I got the pics and basically sharing the knowledge I'm acquiring. Because I know that one of the best ways to really learn a subject is to share.
By the way, the fellow with his back turned to us up top is a Cactus Wren, Arizona's state bird. And the scrunchy looking one right below is a Green Heron, which is the Bird of the Year. Who voted for him I have no idea, but he's a cool dude.