Friday, June 14, 2024

Friday Ramble - Kingfisher Days

In summer, I spend much time photographing butterflies, moths and dragonflies, bumbles and wasps, puddles, trees and weeds, orchids and wildflowers, poppies and lupins gone wild and doing their own untrammeled thing in roadside ditches.

The eastern Ontario highlands are a treasure trove of earthy abundance in all seasons, and I feel very fortunate to be here and taking it all in, but summer is short this far north, and it is poignant. I drink in the wonders around me, knowing their presence in my life is a fleeting thing. Everything seems to be taking in light and giving it back again, and such boundless gifts are not to be squandered.

Happy hours are spent crawling about in the woods on all fours with a macro lens on the camera “doing” ferns, mosses, lichens and little green frogs. Every tump, stump, leafy alcove, creek and stone has wonders to share. Is it difficult to lurch back to a standing position afterward? Oh yes, but it is worth it.

Other time is spent hanging out on the shore at the lake, capturing loons floating on its calm waters as the sun goes down, great herons standing erect and still in the shallows, kingfishers hunting the last small meal of the day. Once in a while, an otter cruises by and perches on a rock, yawning and displaying the bright red inside of its mouth and a set of wicked teeth.

Otters are making a comeback in the Lanark highlands, and it is common to see them swimming along the lake and in nearby rivers. They are fabulous creatures, and I greet them all as "Portly", after the wandering otter child in chapter seven of Kenneth Graham's incandescent creation, The Wind in the WillowsThe Piper at the Gates of Dawn has to be one of my favorite chapters in anything ever written. Period.

Loons, herons, kingfishers and otters - there is always something to see, and it's all good. These are kingfisher days, times out of time, full of magic and an elusive something else, something I am always reaching toward and can't quite find a word for. When I arrive home, grubby, sweaty and speckled with leaf dust, the day’s images are uploaded and archived. I look at everything, of course, but at first glance, the images make me groan, so I file the DVD and think no more of it.

Years later while searching for an image, I pull out a DVD from long ago and discover it contains treasures. Wonder of wonders, I have already taken the swallowtail, loon or heron, the wildflower or rain dappled moss shot I need. Looking at the image, I remember when and where it was taken, my departed soulmate and Beau (or Cassie or Spencer) and I out in the woods together, chewed by bugs and as happy as clams.

Apologies to Canadian actress, writer, and playwright Susan Coyne for borrowing the title of her delightful childhood memoir (Kingfisher Days) for this morning's post. I have always loved the book, and I will be reading it again this summer.


Dee said...

Your words paint a lovely picture this morning. I'm delighted to read that the otters are making a comeback. I sometimes see them on the river where I live, and I love their mischievous, whiskery little faces.

Blondi Blathers said...

Again your writing delights me. Also reminds me that I'm a reader, not really a writer; which is fine with me. But I am always impressed by masterful writing.

You've reminded me of Susan Coyne -- I will see if my library can get me that book -- and of how much I loved Slings & Arrows, which is one of the best TV series I've ever seen, also starting the Handsomest Man in the World.

Blondi Blathers said...

Starring. Starring. Starring. OOF said...

The beings you see on your ramblings are seen so infrequently in my neck of the woods these days. Even a sighting of butterflies is an event. Thank you for a glimpse into the richness of your Lanark Highlands.