Tree Peace

Decorated Live Oak In Our Front Yard

Just like many of you, the holiday lights that decorate our indoor and outdoor spaces give a lift to the melancholy and stress that I feel this time of year. Especially this year.

I also like to sit on my back porch and just sit and stare at the trees and the sky. Sometimes when I do this I am driven in by the sudden barking of a neighbor’s dog or yelling of children nearby. My main nemesis is the loud leaf blowers that are so popular among the anti-leafers. So, I was very lucky recently to sit at sunset and just be in silence. I guess this is my meditation. The more I am able to just sit, the better I deal with all the other everyday stresses.

During this particular quiet sit, I watched the bare burr oak tree as the waning sun gradually left the tree limbs dark in front and the ones in back glowed pink.

Sunset With Burr Oak

I have much to be grateful for this year, but am not sorry to say goodbye to 2020.

Here’s to a better, peaceful year ahead for all of us!

Happy New Year to you all!

Grateful For Nature Photography

It was a dreary, drizzly winter morning. I had been sitting in my portable photo blind since dawn (several hours of boredom) waiting for the sky to lighten and birds to come in to the perch I had set up near a feeder. I was tipping back on my little hunter’s stool (not made for tipping) and must have started to doze. Over I went, taking the blind with me, not to mention my tripod, the attached camera, and heavy lens. Instinctively, I grabbed the lens as I was going down. I fell on and bruised my other hand. As I righted the blind and tripod, I hoped no one other than the birds and nearby cows had seen me go over.

Nature photography can be difficult. Sometimes I have had to carry heavy camera equipment and other essentials (blind, stool, water, etc.) over rough terrain. I have been bitten by chiggers, fire ants, ticks, biting flies, and mosquitos. I’ve endured heat, cold, and lightening. I have encountered cactus spines, cow patties, poison ivy, and snakes (once a sunbathing Cottonmouth water moccasin blocked my path).

But, the rewards are great. The most obvious reward is getting some nice photos. I can show them to people proudly and say “Look what I did!” I can also show them to people and say “Look what I saw!” Maybe show them something they have not seen before and maybe in the showing and telling I can help others in their appreciation of the web of life.

Bobwhite Quail

There is also gratification in the process of taking the picture. The focusing on that one subject. My whole being becomes concentrated on seeing and recording a single, small part of the world. All else fades away.

Sometimes I have sat in my photo blind for hours, being quiet and still so I wouldn’t frighten away potential subjects. I needed to stay alert and aware. After hours of this sitting, I may or may not get the shot I wanted. I was rewarded with just learning the art of being patient and still.

There is the reward in just being outdoors communing with nature. Listening to the quiet. Listening to the bird song, the insect buzz, the coyote howls.

And the reward of the unexpected:

I had not planned on getting this Jack Rabbit portrait. I had been passing through an area to take photographs of something else. He ran into some bushes as I walked by. When I came back through that area later he allowed me to approach him and take lots of pictures. It always feels magical when this sort of thing happens.

The rewards I have gotten from my photography have been a sustaining force in my life. I am full of gratitude for this. When I have finished taking pictures of a subject I always say a quiet “Thank you.”

*Photos by Betty McCreary- Bobwhite Quail and Jack Rabbit photos taken in Goliad co., Texas

*Author’s note: My days of lugging heavy lenses over rough terrain are pretty much over. I shoot mostly flowers and insects in my own backyard with a small, lightweight digital camera.