“All moments are key moments… “

16 August, 2020            “All moments are key moments… “

“…and life itself is grace.” – Frederick Buechner

Green heron at Pony Pasture this morning

I saw this green heron at Pony Pasture shortly before 3:00 this afternoon. I was grateful tp be there – I see green herons so infrequently. 

The quotation I started this post with came through in something I read this week, although I don’t recall what. I’ll return to it. Even an hour ago (it’s after 8:30 PM on Sunday now) I hadn’t considered putting it in this post. But it came up. 

I haven’t gotten any bird pictures I really enjoy in quite a little while. This week I got two! I was hiking at Bryan Park earlier this week and saw this awkward adolescent osprey. All adolescents – including humans of course – share similar qualities. They’re a little gangly and a little clumsy and a little unsure of themselves. They try to project a confidence they don’t yet truly possess. Adolescence is inevitably awkward. This bird has not seen much of the world yet. Literally or figuratively:

Adolescent osprey, not exuding confidence

I can see where this would seem odd with the title (more important, the theme) of this blog post – but I was at the shooting range taking target practice with a large caliber pistol when I felt it first. Long time readers of this blog may recall the “Big Mike Biathlon.” My dad was born just a few years before World War Two began. He lived in Arlington, Virginia and when he was in high school in the early 1950’s he was on his high school rifle team. There was no Beltway then, but where he grew up and went to high school was far inside the current Beltway. And when dad went to shooting practice, he’d ride his bicycle through the streets of Arlington with his rifle strapped securely across his handlebars! Can you imagine trying that today? Oy. Every year I ride my bike to Colonial Shooting Academy a few miles from my house and shoot for an hour or two to commemorate dad’s rides. 

Tuesday morning I rode down there. Here I am in the parking lot with  my bike helmet off and my mask on: 

Masked and ready to go inside and shoot:

I’d gone online and read about it before; they were strict enforcing masks: 

Colonial Shooting Academy – “masked gunmen” are different these days

Dad was a creative thinker and had a vivid imagination. But never in his wildest dreams (never in anybody’s wildest dreams) would he have envisioned shooting at virus shaped targets. Think about those three words for a minute – “virus shaped targets.” But check this out: 

Virus shaped targets. A year ago, nobody saw this coming. Believe me.

It’s really, really intense being in there doing that, just because I’m sort of channeling dad, for lack of a better expression. I’m infused with the influence he had and has over me, and although I hadn’t yet read the Buechner quote at that time, it was clear those moments were key moments. And although I had earmuffs on and smelled gunpowder and was shooting at pictures of viruses, it was undeniably a moment of grace. I like when life works like this. 

Thanks to Evelyn’s relentless digging and planting and trimming and pruning and fertilizing and nurturing, you can’t look out a window of our house and not see a flower. She put in a nice garden along our back fence, filled with native flowers and other plants to feed bees and butterflies and birds and insects. And human souls! I walked back there Friday afternoon to see if any butterflies had dropped by. They hadn’t at that moment, but I did see this praying mantis standing on a daisy: 

Praying mantis on a daisy. Evelyn planted it! Boy, talk about a “key moment.” 

Although I didn’t get any butterflies in our yard this week, I did see one at Pony Pasture this afternoon. This male Eastern Tiger Swallowtail was flittering around the trees and bushes and vines near the field and pond toward the back of the pond: 

Male Tiger Swallowtail at Pony Pasture today

I’ll leave it at that – I’m happy with the pictures I got this week! And with the key moments! And with the grace! Have an excellent 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, Bryan Park, Dogs, Endurance, Flowers, Fun, fungus, grateful dead, Insects, international travel, James River, koans, love, newfaze, ospreys, People, Pony Pasture, raptors, Rivers, simplify, Smiles (including "dog smiles"!), thoreau and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to “All moments are key moments… “

  1. Rob Martin says:

    Momentous! 👏🏼

  2. Sheila M. Wiese says:

    Happy Birthday, Dad! Hope the Big Mike Biathlon was a big success, Jay!

    • Happy Birthday Big Mike is right! I rode my bike today and when my odometer hit 8.17 miles I sang “Happy Birthday!” This year was Big Mike Biathlon number EIGHT! And it was the best ever. I mean, wearing a face mask and pretending I was “that masked man” while I shot at virus shaped targets – what’s not to love? In only five more years, WMM 2.0 will be range eligible – maybe he can go with me! It’s only a three mile bike ride, he’ll be up for it. I have so much fun every year. Hopefully no more virus targets in the future!

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