Only some of the animals are bad. Most of the photos are; but with redeeming features. Cottage life inevitably involves wildlife and thus danger.

On the last morning of our last summer family cottage weekend, I strolled onto the deck in just-outta-bed mode to consider the unique morning air and light and ocean. Something chittered at me and I turned to confront a squirrel who was staring me behind the eyes.

He was just adorably cute in his silky little stripes and tufty little tail. Rodents’ nervous systems are different from yours and mine; they appear to teleport from wherever they are to somewhere else, be it inches or feet, without any movement of limbs or intervening stages.

But I didn’t have any kind of camera so I didn’t get any kind of picture. And that’s the lesson: wildlife photography occurs either by blind luck or, failing that, immense patience: waiting with the lens ready and the finger cocked for the subject to occur, and maybe even face your way. Those of us with Adult Attention Deficit Disorder need not apply.

But I do take pix of animals.

Water patterns
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Water patterns

“Wait,” you say, “I don’t see any animals!” Yes, but. What happened was, I was sitting on the deck savoring a decent New Zealand Marlborough Reisling, shooting interesting sunset water reflections with the eccentric Tokina 400mm telephoto, and the distant seal swam into one.

So I was digging through the photos trying to find the seal and eventually did but it wasn’t a keeper. But I kept going back and forth because I liked the water patterns; sort of psychedelic, very Seventies. I took a ton of these and I’m thinking of a dissolving/ambient piece backed by Phil Glass tracks; oh wait, that was then. Still, pretty; you might enjoy enlarging them.

The island’s unphotographed wildlife notably include the deer, some quite large, who explode out of the underbrush and do their spring-steel leap-away apparently unfazed by the unimproved and choppy forest floor.

Enough talk, I have actual photographs of actual animals, like this one:

Gull

Gulls are dumb loud garbage-eaters, but boy can they ever fly, even when they’re tattered and the camera makes them grainy.

Some animals seem actively malicious. For the first two-thirds of our summer, the monster evergreens near our deck and dock have hosted a bald eagle family — two adults, a juvenile — who arrive and depart visibly and audibly; the harsh dry melodic fluting sounds like nothing else.

They fly into our trees. They declaim drily. They fly away. But they do not come out to have their picture taken. This is the whole summer’s single best effort. I’m convinced they torture photographers for pleasure.

Bald eagle

These past few weeks the eagles have been absent, presumably upstream somewhere rejoicing fatly with the bears in this year’s epic salmon run, the biggest since 1913. The best part of the story is that nobody knows why it happened; helpful evidence in support of the essental “Man proposes, Nature disposes” narrative.

Having said that, every sushi bar in Vancouver is having a special on sockeye sashimi, and cutting it thick and generous too. You just can’t go wrong with that stuff.

Did I mention that wildlife isn’t always on your side? And I’m not just talking about hiding from the camera.

This last weekend, my wife and son took a walk in the woods which led them approximately through the geometric centre of Keats Island; it’s beautiful. Out of nowhere they were swarmed by bees. My beautiful 11-year-old son, wearing loose clothing, got a dozen or more stings including one on his upper lip; while they were recovering, the next couple along the trail got swarmed way worse, to the point that after the stinging, this gentleman was turning alarming shades of grey and yellow and falling down when he tried to stand, into Anaphylaxis territory.

The rest of the story involves lost paramedics and lengthy delays and heavy improvisation and at the end of it nobody died. The first miracle is that the two parties were near each other up there; the second that Lauren had her phone; the third that it got some reception; the fourth that she had just the right number in her contacts, a person who knew who to call and what to tell them.

It’s dangerous out there in the deep dark woods; don’t let anyone tell you it isn’t.



Contributions

Comment feed for ongoing:Comments feed

From: Dave (Sep 19 2010, at 23:02)

What I find ridiculous is that for the first time quite some time, the lower mainland did have a great salmon run. After years and years and years of chronic overfishing, and then having to instill VERY strict quota's and/or canceling commercial fishing of the salmon run, the fishermen were actually complaining that they didn't have enough boats and staff to catch all of them. They forget the problems they themselves caused for the past 20+ years just to maximize the money they make this year.

And next year, it'll go back to too many boats, not enough fish...

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From: Harriet May (Sep 20 2010, at 14:48)

First of all, let me say that I'm glad everyone was ok!

And as for dangerous animals, my dog and I have been chased by coyotes three times. In a park in Charlotte, NC. Yes, the middle of a metropolitan area. So not only can animals be dangerous, they can be dangerous in the city. Which does not bode well for city folks such as myself.

I might add, too, that my dog happened to be off of her leash during our first encounter, and, seeing a rather large, fun-looking puppy dog off in the distance, went bounding over to say hi. Needless to say, the coyote chased her off, and me too, but it didn't chow down on my pup (she's small now, but this was months ago when she was a mere six months and fifteen pounds) for lunch. Perhaps too because the coyote happened to also be city folk, and does not engage in such uncouth activities as devouring small purebred dogs (the tags on those fancy collars always get stuck in your throat) that happen to be taking a moment to "rough it" out in city parks.

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