Serendipity – once in a blue moon

2 August, 2015            Serendipity – once in a blue moon 

100% accidental picture of a plane flying in front of July's "blue" moon

100% accidental picture of a plane flying in front of July’s “blue” moon

If you were unaware – even if you were aware – the full moon on Friday evening (31 July) was the second full moon in the same calendar month. That doesn’t happen often. Around once every three years. So we have the expression “once in a blue moon” when we talk about a moderately rare occurrence. “Blue” is entirely unrelated to the color of the moon, if your interests extend this far. It is (as I understand it) a corruption of a word that no longer exists in modern language, roughly “belewe“. And that word, really roughly translated, has something to do with betrayal,  as in field workers who were supposed to be paid every full moon only got paid once that month, even though it had two full moons. I apologize for my lack of precision. But “blue” is not about the color. 

Serendipity, according to the American Heritage Dictionary, 5th Edition is “1. The faculty of making fortunate discoveries by accident.” I often credit my photographs with being in the “right place at the right time.” My friend Laurie said “…you are ALWAYS at the right place/ right time!!! You have “Serendipity”” She was probably referring to the wikipedia definition. Because if you look up serendipity on wikipedia, you find this picture:

Wikipedia image - of Black-crowned night heron and pileated woodpecker - in definition for "serendipity."

Wikipedia image – of Black-crowned night heron and pileated woodpecker – in definition for “serendipity.”

With the following caption: “The photo was intended to be of a black-crowned night heron; the photographer was initially unaware of the pileated woodpecker flashing through.” See that? They used bird photography in a definition of the word serendipity – out of all the examples they could have used. Wild. 

I digress about the blue moon picture. I’ll return to that after this pair of pictures I took on Tuesday (July 28) when Mackey and Turner and I were at Pony Pasture. Even though Mackey and Turner were with me, she just stood there and ate – we were just a few feet away:

A brief, penetrating gaze to see if we're a threat to her lunch.

A brief, penetrating gaze to see if we’re a threat to her lunch.

She correctly assessed us as benign.

She correctly assessed us as benign.

I wonder if that’s an invasive species she’s eating. Does anyone recognize it? She was so docile about us being there, I was certain I’d be able to take a video. So I looked down to switch my camera from “still” to “video” and when I looked back up, it was like she’d never existed. There was no sound and no movement, she was just there one moment then gone. I’ve seen (and not seen) and heard (and not heard) this happen with whitetail deer so often it’s obviously something they’ve evolved. They’re not small, but they move significant distances in very noisy cover in almost literally the time it takes to blink your eye. An impressive adaptation. It’s unfathomable to me how they pull that off. I can’t tell you how close we were – maybe twelve feet. And she just vanished. 

Outdoor activity is increasing now as we reach midsummer – I didn’t anticipate that. I took this picture in the parking lot at the Tuckahoe YMCA Wednesday morning: 

Mouthful of seeds.

Mouthful of seeds.

That one was in a flock of at least five male goldfinches, and presumably there were females in the area. And I looked up and saw a hummingbird too! But he disappeared before I could get my lens on him.

I “got” a hawk Monday: 

I believe this is a youngster. The coloring is a big light. But I don't know as much as I should.

I believe this is a youngster. The coloring is a bit light. But I don’t know as much as I should.

But haven’t seen them recently. Hopefully this week. I don’t “know” hawks well enough yet to know if perhaps they’ve already migrated. It seems early, though. And I wouldn’t even be surprised if we’re far enough south for this pair to overwinter. I’ll keep my eyes open.

There are still raptors in the area. I took this osprey picture today on the way home from the river: 

Osprey on a tower - my first raptor for August

Osprey on a tower – my first raptor for August

I don’t think he was panting, although it may have been hot up there in amongst all that sun blasted metal. I don’t think he was calling another osprey; he was quiet. And they’re noisy when they call. There was another osprey on the next powerline tower toward the river; I even took a few pictures of it. But it was far away and I was on long zoom and the picture is not blog-worthy. Here’s a picture of where the two birds are. The nest is on top of that cell phone tower on the right side of the picture. The other osprey was on top of that electrical line tower way down in the lower left corner of the picture. That tower overlooks a small lake and I’m sure some unsuspecting fish was about to meet its maker.

Tower with nest on right, tower above lake way down on lower left. Both have ospreys.

Tower with nest on right, tower above lake way down on lower left. Both have ospreys.

Think about a fish swimming around in the lake, moments before being snatched out by that osprey. (I hope you’ll humor me; I’m reading Nine-Headed Dragon River by Peter Matthiessen, described thus on a site called thriftbooks.com: The author chronicles his quest for spiritual roots, describes his early Zen experiences and his gradual reawakening to life through Zen.”) Anyway, the fish in the lake. It’s spent this most recent incarnation (if you’re so inclined) living entirely underwater. And it’s about to become part of an osprey. It happens every day. Wake up in the morning as a fish, go to sleep that night as the feathers and muscles and tendons and yellow eyes and sharp talons of an osprey. Crazy. 

Since it’s August, flowers are fading. There are still some bright colors, but they don’t smell as much now. Ev’s keeping our roses beautiful. I took this picture in our backyard yesterday morning:

A rose like this is lovely in any month

A rose like this is lovely in any month

Speaking of Nine-Headed Dragon River, I learned recently through the magic of instagram that my Appalachian Trail sauntering niece Cappy was reading the same book at the same time. Years ago when I camped a lot on the A/T – back in the Ivory and Nicky era – my backpack always had one book in it. The Snow Leopard, also by Peter Matthiessen.

I believe I’ll sign off for today. I hope July’s been a great month and August is even better. Until next week,

Jay

 

About Jay McLaughlin

I am a rehabilitation counselor. I have many friends with autism and traumatic brain injuries. They help me learn new things constantly. I hike with dogs at the James River in Richmond - a lot. I've completed an Iron distance triathlon a year for 11 years. My most recent was in Wilmington, NC in November, 2013. I currently compete in mid-distance triathlons. And work and hike and take pictures and write and eat.
This entry was posted in Birds, Dogs, Flowers, Fun, James River, moon, ospreys, People, Pony Pasture, raptors, Red-tailed hawks, Rivers, Smiles (including "dog smiles"!) and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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