The time between

10 February, 2019            The time between

For my own reference I titled this “considering” because we were considering each other. IMO.

This was a great week to be outdoors. Every week is great to be outdoors, but this one had seven solid days. We had the best river hike we’d had in months today. I looked at a record of the river gauge; it got extra deep in mid November and stayed that way. Between November 17 and the end of the year it flooded five times, from ten feet deep to over fifteen feet deep. Once it’s over ten feet deep, so many trails are under water it’s almost a waste of time to hike. It gets the animals out of their routines too. But this morning it was at six feet (not at all low, but an improvement) and the woods were full of deer. Like that beauty at the top of the page.

I first photographed her (she was in a large herd near Charley’s Bridge) at 11:51 this morning. I took this picture just after we arrived at the river at 11:00:

The sky at the river this morning. Words will not improve this.

I was walking to the Westbury Apothecary Friday evening as the sun was setting. It looked spectacular – the colors were beyond compare. If I wore a scarf this color, I would be denounced by one and all for my poor taste. It’s so garish it simply doesn’t match with anything. I guess “doesn’t match with anything” is a longer way of saying “beyond compare.” But look at this:

You can only take this picture when you take it – if you move to “improve” it, the sun is gone. I love it.

I really, really wanted to get across the street or up the hill so there would be less buildings or signs or wires in the way. But it was setting faster than I could walk! And I thought to myself “if I just don’t stop here and take this picture, I won’t get a picture at all – the sun is going to set.” So that’s what I got.

It was moving so fast – there was just nothing you could do. I thought about sunrises too, and how it’s the same way, and so is the rest of life: “the time between.” You can’t juggle around and do two things at once. You have to plan, but it’s more important to act. It was a singular experience. I’m grateful I was there. 

Around the time I took the picture of that cloud-striped sky at the river this morning, I turned my camera toward Mackey and Turner and Yuki. They were feeling mellow and it wasn’t bitter cold; sometimes they’re happy to have their pictures taken. 

Always ready to hike. But they were real mellow today.

At the house, Dash wants to do everything the dogs do, except go outside. He wants treats when they get treats, food when they get food, petting when they get petting, to lie in front of the fire when they lie in front of the fire, he wants all the attention – as long as he doesn’t have to go outside. In a few months when it’s warmer and sunnier and we’re not having fires any more, he’ll lie in the sun and watch the world go by. He is an avid and in every way enthusiastic bird watcher – he watches their every move. But they’re safe when Dash is around. He is not in the picture dictionary next to “killer instinct”: 

“Absence of killer instinct; Still Life With Cat #1”

“Absence of killer instinct; Still Life With Cat #2”

It’s possible – it may even be probable – that I’m the only person looking at this blog who isn’t tired of looking at raptors. But they help me sift through – actually they help me discard entirely – my random useless thoughts. Of which I have like a trillion. When I’m photographing hawks or deer my mind just becomes silent. It’s my favorite way for my mind to sound. I had a lot of opportunities to quiet it down this week; there are hawks everywhere. I think I took pictures every day.

I saw a Red-shouldered hawk (Buteo lineatus) Wednesday. It was in a terrible place for photography so I got a terrible image, but thought I’d include it anyway:

Red-shouldered hawk in Bonair in a natural (and difficult to photograph) background:

To make up for that (or not), here are two better quality Red-tailed hawks (Buteo jamaicensis) from this week, just in a less attractive backdrop. The first is from Thursday near Freeman High School and the second is from a day later near a field on Michael Road:  

Sunny pre-sunset Red-tail Thursday evening

Another sunny Red-tail, twenty hours later and about two miles north

I’ll close with a picture of the river from this week. Speaking of things that move non stop (like the river), the time between sunrise and sunset today (February 10) was ten hours and thirty-eight minutes. Six or seven weeks ago, shortly before Christmas, the time the sun was above the horizon was nine hours and thirty-four minutes. In other words, we’re getting more than an hour extra sunlight per day already. And it’s only going to get longer until June. Enjoy! Watch everything sprout! Catch a sunrise or a sunset or both! And have an excellent week, all best,


There are more stressful places than this

PS This just in! I forgot I “got” another hermit thrush this week, at Pony Pasture on Thursday. It’s not as good a picture as last week, but they’re cute birds and people seem fond of them. I know I am, anyway: 

Pony Pasture hermit thrush from Thursday


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, Fun, James River, Pony Pasture, raptors, red-shouldered hawks, Red-tailed hawks, Rivers, sunsets, whitetail deer and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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