Time stops

24 June, 2018            Time stops 

That bird knows it’s being watched. First time I’ve ever looked down at a Red-tail

When I get this close to skittish wild animals, time stops. Or it feels like it does anyway. Deer are skittish but they’re also herd animals and thus predictable. Plus they’re mammals. They can’t fly. But I always feel like Red-tailed hawks are the wildest animals I ever see; they usually leave the moment I look at them. I couldn’t believe how still this bird was. While I was ten feet away: 

Same bird only a few minutes earlier. First time I’ve ever had the pleasure of being this close

I was on one side of a suburban street and he (I’m relatively certain this is a male) was on the other. And as you can see from the top picture, fully aware of my presence. He was drinking out of a little puddle.

“Time stops” because the first thing I do is say “thanks” in my head. It’s partly directed toward the bird (or deer or snake or whatever) but it’s also “thanks” that I’m even able to have this singular experience. The reason (in my own case) that it feels like “time stops” is because I’m not thinking about what’s next. Or what happened this morning or what will happen later today. I’m thinking about what my lens is pointed toward. Because I know it won’t be there long – it could leave before I get my lens cap off. I love that experience. You can’t will it to happen – it either happens or it doesn’t. Each time is a treasure. And you can’t predict it’s going to happen – we were on a busy suburban street at 3:00 on a weekday afternoon! On the first day of summer, as it happened.

Earlier in the week I saw this Red-shouldered hawk in Glen Allen. Not quite as close but still always fun:

West End Red-shouldered hawk


I went to meet a new friend in Richmond this week. This guy’s family wants me to start getting him out of the house and spending some time with him and helping him socialize a bit more. While I was walking from his house to my car I saw this address in front of a person’s house:

A good reminder. For all of us.

Evelyn has charmed our big gardenia into budding practically non stop. This one is from Wednesday but there are two more fat buds opening up as I type. They’ll be spectacular tomorrow morning. They are loving this rain.

A falconer I read described the scent of her hawk as “peppery.” Gardenias do not smell like hawks.

So Thursday – 6/21 – was the first day of summer. How cool is this for the first day of summer – I got the cast off my hand first thing in the morning and I got a removable splint. Much less cumbersome. And I text my flight instructor (John) and he says “let’s fly at 5:00 tonight!” I was anxious about my ability to fly but he was confident so it rubbed off on me. Meanwhile – still first day of summer – I was dog-sitting so I went over to check on the dogs. And that’s when I got the Red-tail picture! Less than a mile from the University of Richmond!

Anyway, I got out to the airport to pre-flight the plane and the weather was beginning to deteriorate. I don’t encourage or discourage – I trust John’s judgment. He knew I wanted to fly, so he said let’s just pre-flight the plane and we’ll start flying. If the weather looks too bad we’ll land. Once we got off the ground it began to clear up some so we flew for almost an hour. And I thought I wouldn’t be able to fly at all! It was great. John took this picture of me after we landed. First day of summer, 2018:

Thanks for the lesson and the encouragement and the photograph John!

I’m tired (again) so I’m going to put in a few miscellaneous images and go to bed. It’s been a long time – for some reason – since I’ve had a bluebird on my feeder. I got one yesterday finally:

Grateful when a bluebird returns to my feeder

Also almost forgot – I got a pretty lone flower with a pretty insect at Pony Pasture this morning. This was the only white flower I saw – I have no idea how it got there. A pollinator found it easily:

This was a luck shot. I have no idea what this flower was doing in that spot. And with such a cool looking insect. 

Enough! Goodnight! I hope you have a time-stopping experience this week! All best,  


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, Cessna 172, Flowers, Fun, Gardenias, Insects, Pony Pasture, raptors, red-shouldered hawks, Red-tailed hawks, Rivers, Smiles (including "dog smiles"!) and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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